Seven Years of Plenty

Perhaps the most famous dream in history was Pharaoh’s dream in Genesis about the thin and fat cattle that Joseph interpreted as predicting seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Neurologists today believe that dreams are part of our inner psychology and don’t have any predictive power on events over which we have no control. But Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream was an accurate representation of the religious world view of the time – God controls the future and showed his intentions to us through dreams. Though it is not predictive,  the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine dream speaks to the way people look at the material world and has implications for our hobby.
       Philately’s popularity has ebbed and flowed throughout its 120 year history. There is always a hard core layer of passionate collectors and they are probably the kind of collectors who most of us know-people whose hobby is part of their weekly or monthly life and has been so throughout most of their life. But though the popularity of our hobby is buttressed by such collectors, the ultimate growth in philately (and especially in stamp prices) is in that second tier of collectors who share their interest in stamps with numerous other interests and who move back and forth between philately and those other interests. Our society has long range trends that impact stamp collecting. We have just finished a period (before the recession) where many people thought only of expanding their homes (or moving to bigger) and where conspicuous consumption was popular. The recession and the aging of the baby boomers has made people more reflective and inward looking in how they spend their money. They want to have things that will retain value. Such a change in socioeconomic values benefits philately and we are seeing significant new interest in stamps. This is just a trend and it will last for several years and then, as it always has, it will turn back to people displaying more vividly their wealth. But enjoy this increase in philatelic popularity while it lasts.

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