- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I spent some time on Memorial Day at the World Stamp Expo at the D.C. Convention Center, an event spotlighted in last Friday’s issues of The Washington Times in a very informative feature article by writer Lisa Rauschart. Stamp collecting, I tell those of a younger persuasion, is how some of us learned about the world before there was an Internet.

The hobby is alive and well, if the crowd is any indication. Many of us are older, and it is still a mostly male hobby, though there were plenty of female collectors — and not a few female stamp dealers and society workers and exhibitors. There were a lot of youngsters, though some skateboarding and rock climbing walls might have brought in some more.

What impressed me most were the various uses of technology: the American Topical Association is going to print its future handbooks on “thematic” philately (collecting stamps by subjects, such as the cats or coins depicted on the stamp, rather than by country) as “print on demand” items: Order a book, it’ll be printed for you and mailed. I expect the downloadable files will come next.

There’s the Virtual Stamp Club, brainchild of veteran philatelist and CBS Radio newsman Lloyd A. de Vries, which has all sorts of goodies for collectors seeking info and data.

And, of course, the American Philatelic Society has one of the hobby’s best Web sites,

certainly vital to those wanting to connect with organized

philately’s U.S. nerve center.

I was truly seized by the thought that melding modern technology with the 150-plus-year-old hobby of stamp collecting might well transition it into the future. I’m not sure, but I left the Expo more hopeful than when I walked in.

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