The argument for the general stamp collection

I haven’t written much on stamp collecting lately, but it sort of hit me that the idea of the general stamp collection is counterintuitive.

Usually, that’s how someone approaches the hobby initially. They are going to be a world-wide collector or perhaps a USA collector (or their home country) and not specialize.

I started with a general stamp collection when I was a kid. I collected essentially whatever stamps I could get my hands on without much thought to organization. It didn’t take long before I “specialized” in a collection of Scouts on Stamps. The specialization bug continued and as of a year ago, I had several active collections:

  • General Worldwide
  • Newspaper Stamps
  • Dead Countries
  • Scouts on Stamps
  • Israel and Palestine
  • Haiti
  • USA
  • Boy Scout Postal History
  • US Coast Guard Postal History
  • US First Day Covers

It’s kind of all over the place.

The general stamp collection

At some point, I guess, I started to “despecialize” if that’s a word. My individual country stamps, newspaper stamps, and dead country stamps have been moved into my general stamp collection, which is housed in four Scott “Big Blue” International Albums and some stock books to supplement. The Scouts stuff remains separated, and I’ve been working on some new album pages for them.

General Stamp Collection

My USA First Day Covers have their albums, but they aren’t a pursuit. It’s more like I acquire them (usually as part of a bulk lot) and stick them in an album. And I keep working on my US Coast Guard postal history collection.

My first philatelic item was a cover of the “A” denomination stamp, given to me by an aunt. Since then, my philatelic purchases have been all over the place, hence my interest in worldwide stamp collections.

The debate

In an online forum a couple years ago, there was a debate about the general collector. Some, certainly not all, specialists, expressed a definite disdain for the general or worldwide collector. Such proclamations sometimes occur in stamp collecting – we certainly have our share of assholes to go along with the really nice and welcoming folks out there.

The thing is, I see no lack of complexity in my general stamp collection. The Big Blue Blog and Filling Spaces Blog both show the complexity and challenge of being a general collector. There’s a lot to it. The best part, for me, is I can shift my focus to an area – say Haiti – and work on that area for a few months without feeling as much like I’m ignoring other aspects of my stamp collection.

Today, my collection is housed in various ways. My first day covers are in FDC albums. The Coast Guard Postal History is in Vario Pages housed in a Vario Grande binder. My USA collection is mostly in a Mystic Stamp Album with more than a few stamps in an old All American Stamp Album. I have some stock books, some miscellaneous albums and am outgrowing four “Big Blue” Scott International albums.

It’s a work in progress. And that appeals to me most.

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