In mid-April 2020, The Guardian newspaper in the UK ran an interesting article titled ‘Post modern: why millennials have fallen in love with stamp collecting’. This must-read article had an interview with the Chair of the prestigious Philatelic Trader’s Society (PTS) in the UK.
The article got wide coverage, and I was sent the link to it by several clients, in case I had not seen it. To show the changing nature of this hobby, the Chair of the PTS in London, in the 40 years or whatever I have been a member, has been male, and an elderly male at that. Nothing wrong with that – it simply reflected the average stamp dealer globally, but these things are changing, just like the hobby.
The current Chair of the PTS is a 37-year-old woman from North Yorkshire. Suzanne Rae gave up her job as a management consultant two years ago, to make her hobby her business, by starting an online stamp shop – Art Stamped. Rae said: ‘We were one of the first stamp businesses using social media.’
The British stamp trade have mostly been a decade behind the rest of the globe with technology. For an eternity, very many had no websites, any real idea what the internet was or how it created (or could create!) huge global sales in the stamp business. I kid you not. Today, in 2020 it seems impossible to believe, but many huge stamp
companies and stamp bodies simply did not bother to register their own domain names in the latter 1990s, as they simply did not understand the internet or use it much, if at all – remember Google started as a two man show in 1999!
In the October 1999 edition of Philatelic Exporter, I reported that Stanley Gibbons had missed out on registering gibbons.com and stanleygibbons.com, instead they got stangib.com – they later bought back their own domain name. ASDA in New York and APTA in Australia were also too late. The PTS in London should have had PTS.com registered years back but did not. Even 10–15 years ago, most UK dealers did not even own quality scanners or have a clue how to supply a clear scan of a scarce stamp. Again, some do not now! Things are changing for the better, thank goodness.
Anyway, having a 37-year-old, tech savvy, with real-world business acumen, millennial, heading up the PTS has seen a lot of positive changes. They have been nudged firmly into 2020 very noticeably, with a Facebook page, blogs and Forum, and other such modern things and devices, that many collectors and dealers actually use.
Philately is gaining popularity among millennials, many of whom see the creative pursuit as an escape from their screen-based lives. Suzanne Rae said in the article that ‘Philately is tangible: it’s relaxing and unplugged. It’s also very Instagrammable. Twitter and Instagram enable young collectors to find people just like them, and see that it’s not only a geeky old man’s pursuit.’
Not every traditional stamp club member will agree with, or even understand the paragraph above, but it is the emerging stamp world in 2020.
Article by Glen Stephens