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Weetabix and Cabbage Sandwiches.

My thoughts on the future of philately.

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Sorry, again, this is long but some of your points answering. Perhaps I am stating the obvious. Here goes.

My eating habits have not changed much as a result of the lockdown. If anything, I eat better. What has undoubtedly changed is my shopping and socialising habits. Previously my socialising was largely based on family and philately. I still see the family but my philatelic life ended with the lockdown, which is why I/we started this website to stay in touch with the hobby and philatelists. I've never been more involved with it.

I like your accurate description of attending displays at society meetings. It tells me you've attended more than a few over the years in at least two continents. I must be one of the "lucky" society members because at the Cambridge Philatelic Society we have had a cakes at teatime ever since I have been a member. But there have been times when I did not feel like attending, like when they were showing GB plate flaws or some such. I can get my teeth into a lot of collecting areas but sometimes I also find myself nodding off. (Did I snore?)

What I miss most about my past philatelic life is going to stamp fairs. When I had the stamp buying bug really badly I would be the first one there at 6.20 am. I miss browsing through old stamp albums and picking out better postmark or going through boxes of covers, looking for finds that compliment my collections. I like sitting among fellow philateilsts and listening to their anecdotes, holding forth or not talking at all, finding a cover and cutting and thrusting for a better price than marked even when you know its a desirable cracker worth every penny. You can't do that online.

On Ebay, Delcampe, BidorBuy, Hip Stamp, whoever, the best you can do is Buy Now at the price they want. Or you can take your chance in auction and be outbid at the last. So you up your bid to win and the dealer goes home happy, thanking the virus for the new bounty that pours in without anyone so much as asking "what's your best price on this?" The best price is whatever the highest bid is. The thing is is that there is a place for both the online auction or shop and the stamp and or postal history fair in your local church hall. It's not one or the other. It's both.

Fairs will start up again. Dealers will return to fairs with stock they currently cannot sell on-line or with material they've bought from deceased estates. The online market is a competitive one where prices vary enormously. If some dealers go bust, they will sell their stock. But before they do they will try to sell online. The virus has been great for those dealers and auction houses unafraid of selling good material online at attractive prices. But like many of us, many dealers will be wanting to get back to basics, back to selling direct to old customers and friends they have served over many years. Many dealers know what you want and put it aside for you.

The question is why is business booming for so many dealers on-line? The answer is because Covid-19 has forced many collectors to buy on-line. These collectors are not technophobes. They are able to surf the internet because they are computer literate to some degree. They have the necessary equipment and computer skills to do so. They have also managed to participate in Zoom meetings. They probably learned these tricks staying in touch with friends and family in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, wherever the kids live today. Sadly, our hobby is fundamentally about a love of history that kids today do not share. But talk to them about technology and, well.........

You mention that many of us collectors hope that one day our collections will be worth a fortune. There was a time many years ago when I certainly hoped so. Then about ten years ago I began to hope that maybe I could just sell my material for a bit more than I paid for it. Now I am just hoping that maybe someone will want to buy it one day. The fact is that there are very few or NO new collectors coming into what is a dimishing market today. But..... the thing is I do not really want to sell my collection. It gives me pleasure and so I do not want to obsess about how much it is worth or not worth.

If you are concerned about reclaiming what you have invested in your collection, sell it now. The market will be smaller tomorrow. On the other hand, if you enjoy the time you spend with your collections because of the pleasure they give you, hold onto them and buy more. As fellow collectors pop their clogs this declining market will become buried under a mountain of material less and less people want. I am hoping that when this happens, I will still be alive to take advantage of buying stamps and covers I cannot presently afford at knock-down prices by the barrow load.

Regarding club meetings, our societies hands are tied to some extent. They hire halls from churches, councils and academic institution who for legal requirement reasons are not allowing us to go back. I believe that if we were offered a society meeting, perhaps a third of members would attend, maybe more.  Members who are elederly philatelists with some underlying medical condition(s) are the target demographic of the virus. Elderly philatelists have every reason to be fearful and to stay at home in self-isolation. However, we are now told that as many, if not more, people are dying of winter flu and pneumonia in the UK as are dying of Covid-19. Add to this others dying of a lack of treatment because many hospitals are not working at full capacity nor performing vitally needed operations. Worst of all, many churches are closed with ministers gone AWOL. This is shameful and disgraceful and makes a mockery of religion.

Yes, computer technology does represent the future. It can bring us together. It provides a great place to show and share info. Zoom has provided a solution but it is not ideal. It is a lousy way to have a discussion, especially one where conversation is a vigorous blood sport. A4 displays work OK on Zoom in my view but PowerPoint is certainly more suitable. However, anyone demanding PowerPoint-only displays is just creating another technical hurdle that old boys will fail to leap over. Its an obstacle more than a solution at present.

Yes, things are changing and we are going to have to change. But so much has changed already.