"Philately, anyone?"

aimlowandhit1I found this badge on an auction site and it triggered childhood memories. Back in the early 1970s, I wore the badge myself. This is the member badge of Bridgnorth Stamp Club, located outside Birmingham in the UK. The stamp club had members all over the world. In retrospective, their business model was of Byzantine dimensions. This is how it worked. You received a booklet with stamps in the mail, and selected the stamps you wanted to keep, and returned the booklet together with your payment. The payment was, if I remember correctly, made in unstamped Swedish stamps. They must have been redeemed in a mysterious way. In hindsight, randomly chosen stamps in booklets are in conflict with serious collecting. But, nevermind. I was young and at the bottom of the collecting pyramid. Back then, you didn't need to be a nerd to collect stamps (but it helped). It was quite common. If you are an ambitious stamp collector, a certain monomanic disposition is an advantage. I could spend many hours trading stamps or arranging and re-arranging the stamps in my albums. Not to mention, the time-consuming procedure of removing used stamps from envelopes, rinsing and drying them and, last but not least, putting them under pressure to wrinkle them out. This process was conducted in an almost industrial scale.      

Nowadays, stamp collecting is dead. It peaked in 1980, and has been declining ever since. There are many reasons for this development. The hard core of collectors have grown older or/and died. There's no younger generation standing by to take over. When I grew older and lost interest, I always thought that I would give my collection to some deserving kid. However, very few kids are interested in stamps. In fact, I haven't even found an undeserving kid to give it to. I still got my collection. The prices of used stamps have plummeted. Many older stamp collectors finds this fact hard to take in since they lived under the impression that their collection would be worth money some day. However, if you have one of these gems, read more here (opens in a new window) you can retire. The rise and fall of stamp collecting isn't just about the actual collecting. The internet and use of e-mail have reduced and replaced letter writing, resulting in lower stamp sales. Metered postage have replaced stamped postage för business and government agencies. And moreover, self-adhesive stamps contains oil-based glue, which means that stamps can’t be soaked off paper anymore (they can still be removed, but it's a more complicated process). Stamps are definitely not a collectible item anymore. The development is not unlike cds. Some, but far from all, will be valuable in the future.    

Whatever happened to Bridgnorth Stamp Club? They became insolvent and went belly-up. A meeting was held "on 26 February 2009, at 11.15 am, for the purpose of having an account laid before them, showing the manner in which the winding-up of the Company has been conducted and the property disposed of, and of receiving any explanation that may be given by the Liquidator, and also determining the manner in which the books, accounts and documents of the Company shall be disposed of." And so ends the tale of Bridgnorth Stamp Club.

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