Why There is Little Written About Philatelic History

Philatelic history suffers from the fact that stamp collecting is not an academic discipline. Academic history is a constant process of evaluation and reevaluation of sources, previous historic writing and conventional understandings. Several of the latest  award winning histories of the early American Colonial period that I have read present quite a different spin on the period compared to how this era was understood when I studied it in college. Academic historians make their reputation by finding new sources and reexamining the old in a way that never exists with those who look at the philatelic past.
Stamp histories are largely anecdotal-memories and stories about the great collectors and dealers. I say this because of an important piece of information on philatelic history that I came across recently. I have been reading the first years’ journals of the London Philatelic society (later the Royal Philatelic Society) and came across a series of articles from the 1890’s about the tremendous boom in prices of stamps during that decade and the tremendous increase in the number of collectors (and the concerns that collectors then had that pricing collectors out of the hobby would ultimately lead to the decreased popularity of stamp collecting). This is an important fact that I had never come across in my philatelic readings, and it has changed my thinking about the proliferation of new issues and higher value stamps that were issued worldwide during the 1890’s. It has also made me reexamine the idea of cyclical increases in stamps prices that might exist.
The problem with our hobby’s history is that we are just a hobby. Most collectors want to collect stamps, not read about why and how people used to do it. There is little market for philatelic history, no professional stamp historians, and little access to the older journals and periodicals. Given this, we should be happy that we know as much as we do, but it would be nice to have a comprehensive, well researched and accurate history of our hobby from its earliest days.
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