Women And Philately

Women and men probably collect things about equally.  Women however just don’t collect stamps. Philately has long been a man’s domain. After the passing of the “timbramania” phase  about 1860, the vast majority of stamp collectors, and certainly the vast majority of more serious philatelists have been men. Of the hundreds of early philatelic books and articles that I’ve read only a few have been penned by women. Of the people who have listed themselves as “followers” of this blog, all are men. And the APS membership is 90% male. There are three main reasons for this. First there is a male tradition in the hobby that is self reinforcing. My boyhood stamp club didn’t exclude girls, but there were no female members either. Several of the club members have returned to their hobby following the long tradition of inactivity during the third, fourth and fifth decades of life. Girls didn’t collect much when I was a kid and so they have no fond memories of a hobby to go back to. Second, for most philatelists their hobby is a solitary one-they study and acquire their stamps alone and their contact with others is on the Internet and through magazines, not in person. Women tend to be more social than men and stamp collecting is not an intrinsically social hobby. Even the women who gravitate to the hobby tend to be overrepresented in the social aspects of our hobby such as at stamp clubs and running for the APS Board. Third, society provides more outlets for the collecting needs of women as opposed to men. Many household items that people own in far greater proportion than they need are really satisfying this collecting need. Indulgences in  flatware and plates and crystal and closets full of shoes and belts and often the better half indulging their collections. Years ago we had all hoped that the future of the hobby would have a more feminine flavor. This hasn’t happened and it doesn’t look likely in the near future either.

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