Stamp Clubs

There was a time in our hobby where you couldn’t really call yourself a collector unless you belonged to a stamp club. Thousands of clubs existed in this country and, in Philadelphia alone, in 1970, a collector could go to a different stamp club meeting five days a week. There were over twenty clubs in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, meeting once a week or twice monthly, or, for a few of the more high brow clubs, monthly alone. And Philadelphia paled in comparison to Chicago which had nearly forty clubs in its prime. Stamp clubs served as social networks and a place to see stamp friends and talk about stamp issues. Each club had it’s own character, generally driven by force of personality of a few long time members. A club could be gossipy or scholarly. Some tried to have regular guest speakers or exhibits to facilitate serious philatelic conversation. Others were coffee klatches given over to gossip and reminiscing. And most clubs had trading desks where collectors could bring their duplicates and small dealer tables or bid boards or small club auctions. Clubs, scores of them in most major cities, served the purpose (and rather inefficiently at that) that the Internet serves today, except today’s collectors can get all that the club system had to offer without leaving their home. And they can connect to this philatelic world any time of the day, any day of the week. But progress isn’t always linear. The Internet system of contact in philately is easier but far more impersonal and many of us miss the connection of the earlier era.

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