Argentina Stamps

Image result for rare argentina stampsArgentinian stamps should be among the most popular in the world. Philatelic popularity is predicated on three things— the education level of the nation, its wealth, and the natural collecting/object acquisitive nature of the ethnic group that makes up the bulk of the people. This can be most clearly seen by comparing the world’s most active philatelic nation, Germany, with the world’s least active, Bangladesh (Haiti would fit as “least active” too, and closer to home, but there is actually a small but active ex-patriot Haitian community in the United States that collects Haiti stamps). Germany is one of the world’s wealthiest countries with a very high education level, and the German collecting passion is legendary. It is no surprise that they are the world’s greatest stamp collectors. Bangladeshis barely have enough to eat, many are barely literate and often have little more than the next day’s meal on hand. They, then, have little proclivity for collecting stamps.
Image result for rare argentina stampsOn this ranking the Argentinians should fall strongly into the “avid collector” side of the spectrum. Argentina is a relatively wealthy country with high levels of college educated people, and over 85% of the population identify themselves as being of European extraction— always a good marker for philatelic interest. But Argentinian passion for philately is far less strong than it was thirty or fifty years ago. Buenos Aires used to have many stamp shops and auctioneers, and in the 1950s and 1960s many Argentinian stamp dealers emigrated to the United States. These dealers had a high level of philatelic knowledge, having been trained in the European tradition, and spoke of a once thriving Argentine philatelic community that was declining rapidly.
Part of what happen to Argentine philately is similar to what has happened to our hobby worldwide. Our hobby isn’t as popular with young people as it was fifty years ago, and the internet has lost us the Main Street exposure that stamp shops gave us. But many of the aspects of the decline of Argentine philately are peculiar to Argentina. In 1910, Argentina had one of the most rapidly expanding economies and was the world’s tenth wealthiest countries per capita with per capita income 80% of the amount for the United States (on that measure, Argentina was wealthier than Great Britain, Germany, and Italy). Since then, Argentine economic growth has languished, and today the country is not nearly as wealthy relative to the rest of the world as it once was. The reason for the decline has been political instability. Experiments with fascism under the Perons and hyperinflation have sapped Argentine economic strength, spurred emigration, caused capital flight, and (most importantly) destroyed the faith that Argentinians had in their country and their fate. We Americans are so caught up in our own political infighting that we are often unaware of how lucky we are. Stable democratic government, even if that government has an anti-business slant (and ours doesn’t), is far better for business than government that only exists for the ruling class.
Image result for rare argentina stampsTo a large extent, philately is a marker of the strength of a country. First, active collectors are a result of a country’s growth rate and a result of the expectations of the population that that growth rate will continue or increase. And second, philately requires a history of stable, political traditions (though our hobby often thrives when those traditions are threatened). People may not like or agree with their government, but it is venal government indeed that is not far better than anarchy. Where you see a strong philatelic tradition, you usually see people fond of their nation and their political system.
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