philatelist (noun): one who collects or studies stamps
The Central Oregon Stamp Show was held last weekend in Redmond. The show, hosted by the Central Oregon Stamp Club, offers a chance for collectors and dealers to discover hidden gems.
Club member Terry Shaw’s niche is covers — postmarked mail.
“If you have what’s a really rare postmark in a town that only existed a few years in the 1880s then that’s a good postmark,” Terry said. “I get intrigued by the history. That’s why I like reading a little bit about the towns.”
The past is a throughline for these collectors.
“Whether it’s different people that are important to that country, geography, you can learn about land disputes,” said Central Oregon Stamp Club President Bryan Nielsen.
It’s a discovery that goes deeper than finding a perfectly perforated piece of paper.
“History that got put on a stamp that may not be part of the curriculums right now that they get curious about and we go look up and they learn something new,” said stamp collector Erin Wilson.
And then there’s the O.G. of stamps. The Penny Black, issued by the United Kingdom in 1840, is considered world’s first postage stamp. It features Queen Victoria.
“One of the first stamps I bought when I stared my collection.”Dennis Wood picked up the hobby at age 12,” said Dennis Wood. “So that would have been 70 years ago.”
Down at the post office, the times have changed. Fewer letters, more packages.
“Now that people don’t mail as much it gets hard to find some of the modern stuff,” Nielsen said. “You don’t often receive a package anymore, or anything with a stamp on it.”
Putting philatelists in a pinch for their product.
“The internet and email communication has really reduced the number of covers,” Shaw said “I’ve heard stories that some kids don’t know where to buy stamps.”
But the club is working to get all ages involved.
“Young to old, it is the king of hobbies, as they say,” said collector Miles Wilhelm.
While some might toss this stuff out like junk mail, it’s so much more.
“It’s history. It’s geography. It’s art. It’s getting to have fun collecting. It’s finding new things,” said collector Eleora Wilson.
Collectors say stamps saw a surge in popularity during the pandemic, including an increase in prices.
The Central Oregon Stamp Club holds meetings throughout the year.