The two best professional football teams of 2016 play Sunday on what has become a de-facto national holiday. Philatelists can have their own kick in their step next weekend.
The Myrtle Beach Stamp Club will have its 25th anniversary Myrtle Beach Stamp & Postcard Show, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 101 Fantasy Harbour Blvd., off U.S. 501 and George Bishop Parkway, just west of Myrtle Beach. Admission and appraisals are free.
Donn Ebert of Conway, director of this annual show, and the longtime president of the stamp club – which meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday monthly at Grand Strand Senior Center, 1268 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach – pondered these questions about appreciating the art, history and geography found in, and touted by, stamps from around the world, in anyone’s fingertip.
Q: An envelope with a “Forever” stamp from 2016 with a male (red) Northern cardinal perched in a holly bush just crossed my hands, and the radiant image is so striking, like the rose-breasted grosbeak and painted bunting stamps issued in 2014. In your thinking through recent decades of U.S. Postal Service stamps for first-class letters, what songbirds or other animals have earned the most accolades among stamp collectors?
A: Birds have always been a popular topic, always ranking near the top in collecting interest. I went back and looked at some of the issues all the way back to about 1982; back then, the colors weren’t as brilliant as they are today. ... One issue that came to mind from back then was the state birds and flowers. ... In recent years, other than birds, some interesting sheets issued have been dinosaurs, Arctic animals, insects and spiders, and we’ve had a couple of birds of prey, and animal rescues with dogs and cats.
Q: Stamps bring in one’s fingertips a snapshot of history, geography and ecology. and you tout the hobby of collecting stamps as a teacher of “organizational skills, a little detective work, and the thrill of the hunt.” What makes this hobby a worthy – and really, not costly – outlet of time for anyone of any age, and of potential show-and-tell value for young schoolchildren?
A: That’s what we’re trying to do, to get youngsters involved in it. You can learn so much history of the United States just by collecting stamps. All the issues have a story behind them. They’re issued for a reason; sometimes they’re endangered species.
First of all, you find out where the stamp is from, and you look it up in a catalog and do some research on it, which is your detective work.
Probably nothing pleases a collector more than getting the last stamp that fills that last empty space on an album page. That isn’t always possible. Some of those stamps pictured in the catalogs are very rare, with maybe only a few in existence. That begs the question of, what are we going to do to fill that space? ... You could find a picture of that stamp. ...
Kids can take these things to school and talk about them, and maybe impress their classmates. What we hope to do is plant the seed of collecting in their minds, because as you go through life, you’re off to college, and get married and raise a family, buy houses, work for for 30-40 years or so, and then retire. When you do retire, stamp collecting’s a good thing to get back to; it keeps your mind active. ...
I have customers who look for certain stamps, and I try to hunt those down. My record is nine years to find a set of stamps; the customer didn’t even remember why they ordered it.
Q: Even in this digital age, mail the old-fashioned way is necessary, and still especially of valuable to writers of friendly letters, thank-you cards, and in sharing memories of vacations, postcards. How lucky are we in the United States in that a stamp for standard letter costs only 49 cents – even after the brief price decrease to 47 cents from April 10, 2016, through Jan. 21, 2017, and the lack of news on that?
A: Research has shown that around the world, we probably have one of the cheapest first-class letter rates. In Great Britain, there used to be stamps issued by them, maybe $3-$4 for a set of five or six stamps; now those stamps have doubled in price. ... I think the thing that gets to us collectors is that U.S. Postal Service rates change so frequently. Still, they have a limit; they can raise the first-class rate only by the rate of inflation.
Q: With standard postcard stamps remaining 34 cents each – and often costing more than the card itself – might more joy come from shopping for, and sending them, on vacations than even for the recipients finding them in their mailbox – unless it’s a reminder for a doctor’s office appointment?
A: Postcards really weren’t around much before 1900. Between 1900-06, when you sent a postcard, the address side was just for the address, and you wrote your message across the picture, on the other side. In 1907, people were starting to collect postcards, so the makers divided the back, with the address on the right-hand portion, and the left for the message, and that left the picture free. ...
Cards with a mountain scene is not as desirable as a street scene with vintage cars or a horse and buggy, and people, and street signs. ... The stamp isn’t very critical to the card; it’s the picture.
Q: What more-or-less obscure country’s sample of a stamp left you floored to see, after all these years in this hobby?
A: It’s very interesting now to see who can come up with the most outrageous one. In the 1970s and early ’80s, Bhutan started with scented stamps, and with three-dimensional stamps. For a long time, those were the standards of the most unusual for countries. Recently, a couple of stamps left me floored. One is from Portugal, and it’s like a small, tin can, almost like a sardine can. I have not seen the actual stamp, but I know that has been issued and raised some eyebrows.
Many collectors say they’re not stamps, but just gimmicks, and they won’t buy them to have in their stock. Austria – which has been a pretty stable country when it comes to stamps – had one that was a four-piece puzzle, which you could take apart and put back together – of course, that ruins the value of these. Austria also has come with a stamp that’s actually printed on glass; this brings a whole new meaning to the term paper cut.
Q: With this stamp club’s show reaching its silver anniversary, and at least 300 patrons turning out to these two-day shows in each of the past five years, what kind of cake will be awaiting early birds this coming weekend as partakers?
A: It was suggested that the early birds get a stamp-size piece of cake. ... It’ll be a little bigger than than that. ... So, people will have the whole nine yards with the ceremonial cutting of the cake, and we’ll hope bite-size pieces work.
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.
If you go
WHAT: 25th anniversary Myrtle Beach Stamp & Postcard Show
BY: Myrtle Beach Stamp Club, with 10 dealers scheduled to be on hand, also for appraisals.
WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 11 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 12
WHERE: Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 101 Fantasy Harbour Blvd., off U.S. 501 and George Bishop Parkway, just west of Myrtle Beach and along Intracoastal Waterway, next to The Boathouse Waterway Bar & Grill.
HOW MUCH: Free admission.
ALSO: Myrtle Beach Stamp Club, welcoming anyone interested in collecting stamps, postcards, or both, meets at 7 p.m. on first Tuesday monthly at Grand Strand Senior Center, 1268 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, including this Tuesday, discussing Linn’s popular U.S. stamp poll for 2016. Annual club dues $10.
INFORMATION: 843-347-0087, or email email@example.com.