Saturday 17 October 2009

Collector! Write the story of your collection

For many years Stamp Clubs and Philatelic Societies have noted a downward trend in membership and – what is worse – fewer applications for membership. The usual response has been that we, the active collectors, must do something in order to create an interest for collecting stamps among youth. The underlying assumption is that despite the fact that many a young collector give up stamp collecting after a couple of years there is a good chance that some of them will return to stamp collecting later in their lives when time and opportunity permits.

The problem is that this recipe is no longer a workable one. Too few boys and girls show an interest in stamp collecting. Competition from other leisure- time activities is overwhelming. Being an old-time collector and still gaining so much pleasure from philately I would like to try to ensure the order of succession in the widest sense. So, what to do besides convincing other grown ups and especially retired people many of which do not know what to do now? Can we come up with a new and workable recipe?

I believe that a new recipe should be formulated around “the story of a stamp collection” and that promotion of this story should happen at fairs and exhibitions, via new books including e-books, at schools, at post offices and so on. Where- and whenever the opportunity arises collections should be presented, but not just the collection. It must be accompanied by the story behind the collection as well as of the collection and it should be told by the collector him or her self.

The story of the collector does not find its way on its own. It must be promoted and it should be compulsory for exhibitors to promote it. It might happen by developing or adding to the already compulsory introduction sheet showing the plan of the collection in the form of a synopsis.

As a matter of fact the idea of a synopsis was discussed by the F.I.P. Traditional Commission at its meeting in Bucharest on June 26, 2008. Take a look at Click SYNOPSIS EXAMPLE and you will see several examples of how a good synopsis might look.

At the outset it can look a bit complicated. I do not believe it has to be complicated. If you know your collection, and know it well, which you no doubt will, then putting a bit of order in your material, adding a structure to it, be it by topic, by event or chronologically you already have a draft synopsis which you can develop further.

Of course the history of a collection must be printed in the catalogue of the exhibition, on paper or virtual, if such is produced, or in other ways. Collectors should tell the story of how they happened to create their collection as well as the story of the collection. The two tasks are not the same thing. I have no doubt most collectors will be more than willing to do just that.