Used versus Unused

The following remarks are penned in reference to the great question of “Used v. Unused Stamps.” I have always been a keen supporter of used stamps in preference to the unused ones, although the latter seem to be the fashion among our leading Philatelists, and as most of my friends also are collectors of unused stamps, it follows I am somewhat in a “minority,” but this fact makes me the more wishful to do my best to improve the “status” of the collectors of Used Stamps. At any rate I should like to see them placed more on a “par” with collectors of unused.

To confirm my opinion, I will refer to the various Exhibitions that are held from time to time, laying special stress upon those held in our own country, as those held abroad do give more encouragement to the collectors of used stamps. Taking our own exhibitions then, both public and private, is it not a fact that more attention is paid to unused stamps, not only by the Collectors themselves, but also by THE JUDGES APPOINTED, than to any used stamps shown? And I would here say that it seems to me a great pity that our Judges all seem to give two-thirds at least of their attention to these unused rather than used stamps; ergo, collectors of used only have small chance of ever gaining a favorable verdict as regards their exhibits, to say nothing as to any medals, etc.

In spite of this limit several medals have come my way, yet I feel sure that the collectors of postally used stamps seem to take a back seat somewhat when opposed to their fellow members, the collectors of unused stamps. Again, notice when any of our magazines refer to any exhibition what preference they seem to give to unused, a preference almost “unfair” in my humble opinion.

Why should this be so? Putting aside the question entirely of which is the proper thing to collect in a philatelic light, surely the collector of used should at least be on a par with the collector of unused, in fact I go further and say that the two are entirely separate from one another and ought not to be compared at all, but I don’t think the used should be so insignificantly treated as they seem to be. We are not all “Croesus,” and granted that the majority of stamps are worth more unused than used, still I hold that a true philatelist may collect used only, as much as he who collectors unused, hence both should have their right place in any exhibition or in any magazine, and not compete against each other.

As an illustration take one of our Colonies where unused are worth more than used, namely St. Vincent. At the present day the owner of a complete or nearly complete collection of unused stamps would easily gain a medal or have his collection very highly thought of by many of our leading philatelists, while the owner of a collection also complete but of used stamps would find his chances very limited. Now why? Surely one is as complete as the other, besides, one is as much true “Philately” as the other, if not more so!

The time has certainly come when unused should be kept apart from used especially as regards exhibitions, and where medals are given some should be for used as well as unused, and the wealthy “Croesus” who collects both would be doubly fortunate.

This matter should be taken up, and collectors, like myself, of only postally used stamps should combine and try to strengthen their cause, because the “opposition” is an extremely powerful one. With regard to the latter remark, I would also say that with combination the collectors of used stamps could easily become a strong body, because it is a positive fact that many of our young collectors only collect used stamps, and though perhaps young now, in time they will probably develop into leading ones, and I think if some combination could be formed it would do good all round. For generally speaking (although there are exceptions and important ones too), unused cost more, the adherents of unused are wealthy and many of them our leading lights in Philately, yet that is no reason why collectors of USED should not also form themselves into a strong body. There is if anything more work in connection with these stamps than with unused mint ones, if only for the reason that the obliteration often causes a difficulty as to genuineness or not, hence it is a pity some of our leading Philatelists don’t give more of their attention and their valuable information as regards used stamps than they do. I consider too much philatelic work is devoted to stamps unused at the present day to the detriment of the used ones, and I should like some better pen than my own to take the matter up. Perhaps you will kindly open the pages of your journal to this question and see if we collectors of the humble “used stamp” cannot at least raise our position in Philately and make it more on a level with unused than it is. We have the numbers on our side, when the young collectors are taken into account, and if we have not the money or the leading Philatelists, still we ought to make a better figure in the philatelic world than we do. One way to do this is to combine better together, and to have special medals at exhibitions for used stamps.

By earning these prizes Used collections also get the “admiration.” The fact that Unused collections gain nearly all the prizes is a proof, in my mind, that our worthy Judges consider unused, generally speaking, better than used. Why they do I utterly fail to see, because unused may look cleaner and may be worth more, why they should be better philatelically than used I am at a loss to know, and always have been. Rowland Hill brought out postage stamps for the POSTAL USE, and not to be placed in albums in mint state. Further, if anyone replied to me that Hill did not intend used stamps either to be thus treated, I would reply he did not care one jot what became of stamps after they were obliterated, or in other words after they had done their work, namely franking letters, but I am not laying special stress upon this now, all I say is used stamps are as much Philately as unused, yet at present they don’t seem so among the “upper ten” as it were. No one has greater respect for some of our leading Philatelists than myself, but I think some “new blood” is required to work along with them, if they will have it, if not then the large and increasing number of used collectors must put themselves on a more satisfactory basis. At present the latter seem to be lying low for sake of some public champions of their cause. Now is a chance for these champions to come forward, there is plenty of room for them as well as for our present Philatelic Men. Let the present adherents of unused stamps by all means continue to flourish, but let there be some existing also of used stamps, because in the ordinary course of events Philatelists of today must “retire” from this mortal strife, and naturally the present young generation of collectors will grow up, and from them it is hoped will be chosen some leaders who will take up the cause of used stamps, alongside their brethren of the unused order.

In other words what we may call the more humble collectors, those with limited means who collect used stamps should have their champions along with the wealthy who already have theirs out of all due proportion to the relative number of collectors of used and unused. There will always be more poverty than wealth especially in “stamp collecting.” For this reason alone the collectors of used stamps should be thought of more than they are and encouraged more, and have more chances of showing their collections and further meet with much more encouragement than they do at present from our leading philatelists. Open up your columns for the free discussion of this question, without considering which is more philatelic, used or unused, this is not the point HERE, but simply to strengthen those WHO PREFER FOR VARIOUS REASONS TO COLLECT USED STAMPS, but who at the moment are somewhat backward as regards general philatelic support. If the collectors of used stamps would only make themselves know, I venture to say we could make a pretty bold show, even amongst our humble lot, and we have this fact to our credit that collectors of unused stamps cannot PROVE that their system is the only true philatelic one any more than we could do that ours is (putting aside my private opinions). Hence it follows that both collecting differently, EACH OUGHT TO BE WELL REPRESENTED both by EXPERTS as well as by DUE RECOGNITION at exhibitions.