Social media rouses dormant philatelists
In the era when sending multiple messages is one click away, collectors of postal stamps turn to online platforms, such as Facebook and eBay, to hunt for rare collections.
Philatelist Yusup A. Ridwan said that many philatelists, who had been inactive after the introduction and dominance of emails in written correspondence, had returned to their hobby following the growing popularity of social media by using online platforms to build up their collections.
“With the emergence of social media, many sleeping philatelists have started to collect stamps again. There are even more curious newbie [collectors],” he said, adding that a Facebook group of more than 7,000 members existed, who collaborate on stamp collecting.
He said he often found stamps online that he had been searching a long time for.
“I keep watching Facebook and eBay, as well as asking the Indonesian Philatelist Association (PFI) whether any new stamps have been issued. So every time new stamps are issued, I will immediately buy one,” said Yusup, who is particularly passionate about stamps with a mushroom theme.
He said that out of more than 2,000 stamps he had collected, around 400 were related to mushrooms.
He said he planned to create a story based on the stamps and display them in an exhibition in the near future.
PFI Secretary General Rachmat Asaad said that unlike email or other means of written communication, he found distinctive features in postal stamps. “Emails cannot be collected, but stamps could,” he expressed at the Pasar Baru PFI office in Central Jakarta.
Rachmat said that postal stamps were a representation of a nation because only sovereign countries could issue stamps and get acknowledgement from other countries.
Indonesian stamps, for example, offered a different feel for collectors as they symbolized the country’s characteristics such as its flora, fauna, cultures, national heroes and historical events, he said.
Even though people nowadays do not consider stamps as a necessary means for written correspondence, philatelists are creative in making use of the tiny-sized pieces of paper, he added.
“There are international competitions for philatelists to showcase their collections and create stories out of them,” he said.
Rachmat said that two international organizations affiliated to philatelists, the Federation of Inter-Asian Philately (FIAP) and Fédération Internationale de Philatélie (FIP), often held festivals or competitions.
The FIAP, for example, will organize a competition in Bangkok, Thailand, in August and he plans to attend.
“In the last competition in Singapore last year, our Indonesian contingent earned three gold medals,” he said.
Rachmat also explained that certain stamps could have added value and would be highly demanded if they, for example, were signed by a state president or a high ranking official for commemorative purposes.
“The first thing I will do when I meet an important person such as a president is to take his signature on my FDC,” he said, referring to the “First Day Cover” envelope that is released along with a stamp’s initial issuance.
He revealed that the most expensive stamp he had bought was one with the “Taiwan Bridge” on it, which he acquired for Rp 10 million (US$750).
Service manager Teguh Prihantoro of PT Pos Indonesia, the state-owned company responsible for providing postal services, said that the firm would continue issuing stamps to commemorate important moments, such as promoting tourism for the recent solar eclipse.
He acknowledged that the number of people using conventional letters for correspondence was decreasing.
“Currently, the parties using conventional letters are mostly lenders” he said. (fac)
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