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Paintings on Stamps
Mentoring New Stamp Club Members
Part One: Starting
Rationale: Todays’ stamp clubs are
experiencing an influx of members aged 50 to 65 who are
returning to a hobby they enjoyed in their youth. In addition,
there are beginner collectors from this age group also joining
clubs (perhaps as a result of inheriting a collection many years
ago or because they have the leisure time to take up a hobby).
The other group that needs mentoring are the youth who attend
our shows as well as our clubs. Mentors are needed that are
oriented to youth as well as adult beginners. Don’t take for
granted that the new collectors who visit your club have any
idea how to proceed, for that assumption will cost the hobby
Stamp clubs tend to view members as experienced and long-term
collectors and often are not organized to assist those who come
to the hobby as beginners. For the hobby to thrive we, the
experienced collectors, have a duty to all new members.
Who should be a mentor: While all members of any
stamp club should be prepared to mentor, the more experienced
members (life-time members of the club and/or RPSC for example)
are those who should leap into action! These are the individuals
with the most knowledge and experience.
What are the subject matters that new collectors need to
Each of these areas can be addressed on an as-needed basis or
organized as a series of presentations. This will depend upon
the needs of the beginner(s) and could be one-on-one or focused
on a small group.
Where do I start? This should include a
discussion of supplies (tongs, hinges, stock sheets, albums,
and books on beginner collecting).
What do I do with the collection I’ve
inherited? Often the new member has a starter collection and
needs to get advice about how to proceed.
What do I collect? A discussion of mint
versus used, country versus topical, First Day Covers versus
event covers and so forth. This could easily involve the
whole club in a discussion as every collector does something
different and has different interests. Encourage the
collector to start with what they are comfortable with.
Removing stamps from paper (envelopes):
a. How to soak and dry stamps.
b. How to handle coloured paper soaking (everyone can
remember that stamp that turned bright red).
c. What about self-stick stamps? Some soak just fine in
water while others require a glue solvent (Bestine, for
Handling stamps and the use of tongs. What are the
precautions that need to be taken, especially with mint and
rare (valuable) stamps?
Identifying the country that issued a stamp. Two sources:
stamp identifiers that were issued by stamp companies like
‘Harris’ and a catalogue.
How does one use a catalogue?
The advantages of an album versus using your own pages
(recommend 28-pound weight or better if one is going to make
their own pages).
Hinge use: When and how to use hinges. Also, how to
safely remove hinges without damaging the stamp (today’s
hinges are quite aggressive and should be soaked off).
Stock pages for mint stamps.
Specialized books for covers.
Storage of your collection. (where, why, and how).
Buying: Dealers, auctions, on-line, club circuits,
bourses etc. Do I buy bulk or individual items, mint or
used, older versus more recent, covers, etc.? Some
collectors enjoy the hunt (bulk buyer), some want to fill
holes, etc. No strategy is wrong, but finding one’s comfort
zone may take time.
nsurance: At what point does a collector need
insurance? What is the best source?
Library: Does the club have a library? If not, has the
club made an effort to arrange the borrowing of books from
other members by creating a list of available publications.
The Canadian Philatelist, Canada Stamp News, on-line,
and other publications as sources of information. Are there
samples available at the club?
A beginner table: This creates a comfort zone for new
collectors. They can work with like-minded collectors and
Tagging, paper types, errors, freaks, and other
specialized discussions should occur whenever questions
about these come up. Tagging and paper types are not areas
of wide-spread knowledge at the club level, so a mentor is
essential, not just for beginners but any collector who has
interest in these areas as their collection grows.
Finally (and of importance): Is the club environment one of
friendly interaction or one of specialized intents. The
atmosphere at the club (and shows) must be one that is open,
respectful and focused on working with and encouraging all
levels of activity.
Mentoring Part Two:
Specialization and Exhibiting
knowledge is done in two ways: discussion groups and exhibiting.
presentations): A short 5 to 10-minute talk on what any
collector finds intriguing about the hobby leads to healthy
discussions at the club level (and seminars at the regional and
national level). How well does your club do encouraging short
talks and meetings?
collectors have areas of ‘expertise’ but rarely share their
knowledge. Exhibiting, whether as a single page or multiple
frames (6 or 16 pages per frame), should be encouraged.
Mentor: an experienced
exhibitor or an exhibit judge should work with individuals
who want to share their specialization (or just create a
Level: At first encourage
creating the exhibit for a local level display. Far too few
local shows have exhibits of any type and fun exhibits
encourage collecting (e.g. a topical exhibit).
Specialized exhibits: Advanced
collectors may want to exhibit at the regional and national
level. A local mentor working with the (novice or
experienced) exhibitor will better prepare the exhibitor for
what the judges expect. Doing well encourages exhibiting,
but is dependent entirely upon a good local mentor to insure
the exhibit is well done (see David Piercey’s articles in
Cyber Design Concepts