The Bannister Conundrum

In 1954 Roger Bannister accomplished a feat that many sports observers had never thought was possible. He ran a mile in under 4 minutes. Within six weeks Bannister’s own record was broken. Running faster than a four minute mile became the norm among world class runners though previously the record had held for centuries (the record is now 3:43- though the mile is not run as much in the metric era). Does anyone think that Roger Maris would have broken Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961 if Micky Mantle hadn’t been pounding homers right behind him. The point is that in most activities we are stirred on by what others are doing and this defines for us the possible. The philatelic point here is that with the decline of stamp shows and competitive exhibitions and with the decline of stamp clubs where collectors got together to show off their latest acquisitions, collecting has become a very isolated hobby. Many collectors don’t even know of the possibilities of advanced philately and there is little way for them to find out. Certainly the Internet allows easy access to a wide range of selling sites but it is less good at instructing collectors in the vast scope of our hobby. Perhaps that is why many new collectors who enter our hobby seem so mercurial. Filling spaces in an album is easy. What is more difficult is finding cohesiveness in our hobby so that it is not just a matter of random acquisition.

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