Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lawrence Block on "The Abiding Patience of Stamps"

As usual, the latest Lawrence Block column in the 3/22/10 Linn's resonates. This time he is discussing how actively one has to be engaged to enjoy stamp collecting.

You will sometimes see the statement, "Sharks Need to Continuously Swim to Live" applied to stamp collecting. In other words, if your collection isn't growing, what's the point?

What the analogy misses, and Block's column documents in a variety of ways, is that stamp collecting doesn't demand daily involvement to still be a satisfying hobby. It is possible not to feed your collection for days, months, or perhaps even years at a time, knowing that it will still be there when you are ready. For some reason, I'm reminded of the "Nike" commercial from the movie What Women Want. The commercial within the film was about running, but if we switch to a collecting motif, then you might have

"And you can call on the [collection] whenever you feel like it...The only thing the [collection] cares about, is that you pay it a visit once in a while."

There have been several recent threads in discussion groups from collectors thinking about cutting back. The reasons vary but often include that all of the items still missing from their collection are too expensive to acquire. This is not a problem I expect to have with a Classic Era collection built around the "Blue" International. I own in another album what is likely the most expensive stamp in Volume 1 and I've already found the stamp that supposedly is the most difficult to acquire. So I can forge ahead, confident there is a reasonable chance that the last stamp I hinge in the album could come in at under a dollar.

(For accuracy, I should add that the need to continuously swim is only true for some varieties of shark.)

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