Some Characteristics of a Successful Hobby

Hobbies are successful when they allow a diverse group of participants to engage in an activity where they can find enjoyment. Over the last 150 years, philately has been one of the world’s most successful hobbies, having millions of devotees. To be successful a hobby has to offer many things. It must have differing levels of appreciation- novices must find it immediately appealing on a visceral (or in the case of philately, visual) level and it must offer increasing pleasures and rewards to participants as they become more involved. If the hobby never gets more serious or involved more intelligent people soon tire of it. Philately is wonderful on this count. From the preliterate child sorting stamps by design to the postal historian’s archival wanderings, our hobby has interest to people of all academic and intellectual  levels.

A successful hobby mustn’t be too expensive or too cheap. No one can collect Old Master paintings because the cost is at least tens of thousands each so that is not really a hobby. Conversely, buttons are so cheap that few people do more than keep theirs in a jar. Popular hobbies also must account for differing human temperaments. Philately is an oasis for scholarly and inquisitive individuals. But it also has attraction to the avaricious and retentive. There is room for the instructive personality who uses our hobby to inform and interest themselves and others in the world. And of course there is room too for the hostile and negative personalities. They largely congregate on chat room websites dispensing self serving advice on their virtues and everyone else’s vices. Truly almost any type of individual can find a home in our hobby. That is why it has been so popular for so many years.

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