Production Values

Perhaps the greatest change in our hobby in the last 80 years has been in the quality of the product that we collect. Stamps have gone from miniature pieces of art that reflect the skill and technological prowess of the nation that issued them to being little more than a chit indicating payment of postage, usually with a theme to appeal to collectors. The change is not only cultural-taste and artistic standards are lower now than they used to be- but also reflect the diminished roll that letters, and consequently postage stamps, play in our society. Until about 1950 telecommunication was difficult and expensive and was only used for the most important communications. Costs of telephone use has lowered dramatically so that today the largest cost to the telecom companies is not the lines or the satellites but the actual costs of billing customers. Today, most people pay a flat monthly fee for all their telecommunications with no distinction between local and long distance. Email is essentially free. So postal communication has taken an increasingly lower role in our total communication universe and the importance of postage stamps has been affected accordingly. The pictures above illustrate this powerfully. Can you imagine a more beautifully engraved miniature work of art than the Pound PUC of 1929? Contrast that with the Grenada stamp issued after the great commercialization of philately. It could have been designed by a child.

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