Making Collectors?

The growth of Asian philately has undermined traditional thinking about where new collectors come from. The traditional model has been the evolutionary model- children (usually boys) introduced to the hobby and collecting in their youth become re enamored with stamps in middle to old age. This paradigm has described the traditional collecting arc in the United States and Europe and has caused considerable chagrin among philatelists about the future of our hobby when we see so few young collectors. The Asian model is quite different-few Chinese collected as children. Rather, as young adults and middle aged men they have come into the hobby in droves. The reasons for this might provide us with a way to promote philately to more mature people today.

 The major reason for the popularity of Chinese collecting has been the increase of popularity of stamps among the scientific and managerial class of young Chinese. This in turn has produced price rises in Chinese stamps which has reinforced the collecting urge and brought in even more collectors. The way forward in promoting American philately is not bemoaning the lack of children collectors (as an aside, older collectors have been crying about this since at least 1950 and, surprise, new mature collectors keep appearing). The answer is to promote philately to young adults who have the psychological temperament for philately. That temperament usually includes intellect and introversion. A very large number of our young adult customers today are engineers, computer people, and numbers people. People who want to promote philately might consider writing articles with a stamp hook for computer magazines and blogs. We have tried to cultivate philatelic gardens that have too long a lead time for success. Time and effort should be spent trying to attract people to our hobby who already have the psychological predisposition for it.

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