THE modern society has given a rebirth to online stamp collecting – a whole new world being welcomed by the Burton-on-Trent and District Philatelic Society.
To the general man-on-the-street, ‘philatelic’ will mean nothing, but to the growing number of stamp collectors in the world it means a growing compilation of millions of historic documents that tells it own story in society.
John Anthony, treasurer of the Burton society believes he has a collection nearing 200,000 stamps carefully recorded in around 50 to 60 albums.
For saying the small society boasts a membership of more than 20 – it is incredible to think how many stamps are currently being hoarded in the town and how much history is still waiting to be discovered.
While there are stamps from across the world – including Austria and Hungary – countries that Mr Anthony has a particular passion in, the society also looks deeper into the origins of stamps.
In last Tuesday’s meeting at Burton Library, the group welcomed guest speaker and fellow member, postal historian Richard Farman, who gave a presentation on stamps mailed to and from French prisoners of war, as well as English soldiers imprisoned in France.
The history of Burton’s society, it seems, goes back further.
John said: “I know there was a Swadlincote Philatelic society as there was a newspaper report in 1909, and I have a feeling it included Burton.
“There was a Burton and Derby society but as Derby grew they took the ‘Burton’ name out. The current society was founded in 1957 and some of our founders are still members today.”
However, the treasurer added that as the younger generation turn to electronic games, the philatelics are getting older.
But new technology is bringing societies from across the world into the mainstream with the introduction of the internet, and, importantly, auction site Ebay.
“If you type ‘stamps’ into the Ebay search engine, you get hundreds of thousands of results” says John, who has used the internet to purchase 70 to 80 per cent of his collection.
I am surprised to learn the number of ways you can get hold of stamps – as John reels off a long list of fairs and auctions houses that are still well attended, but it is the online access – which opens the gateways for the worldwide variety of stamps – that is most popular now and has transformed his collection.
“I started a collection when I was a child, and restarted when I had moved out as my mother was having a clear out so I took my collection with me.
“I lived in Nottingham at the time and there was a stamp shop. The woman who owned it said I should have a speciality and suggested Austria and Hungary. Austria because they didn’t produce many but were good quality and Hungary because they knew there was a market for stamp collecting so made more.”
“I have about 200,000 stamps in 50 or 60 albums and I have been collecting since 1971. I would like to sell them eventually as I have two daughters who haven’t expressed an interest so it wouldn’t be passed on.
“The interest is still there for me and there are new aspects to explore such as the postal history.”
The Burton-on-Trent and District Philatelic Society meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the Burton Library, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
The society has just completed its event calendar for 2013, when there will be a range of displays covering Austria, Zeppelin Mail, Belgium, the Great Britain Centenary stamp of 1940, Paraguay, Allenby’s Palestine Campaign and China, to name a few.