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Stamp Stories

The Great Canadian Stamp Survey

The results of The Great Canadian Stamp Survey are in!

In Episode 30, we shared the main results of The Great Canadian Stamp Survey! We also included chapter markets, which should be available on Apple Podcasts App on iOS (provided you’re on iOS 12+), Overcast, Pocket Casts, Player FM and most great podcast apps.

Episode released November 26th, 2021. Follow the podcast for free .

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Some background before we jump in. I am Admin of a , and I was curious about the periodicals people read. The quick survey was super eye opening to some of the magazines I wasn’t even aware of. I wondered what else I might learn from surveys. I went to look online to find what I could learn. To my shock there was nothing public, so I decided to take action and to learn by asking others

I went to my community with the survey idea, with some questions, and crowd-sourced others. They gave me feedback on the questions and then after a week I launched it. I was humbled by all the amazing people who shared this survey or who reached out about the results. I wanted to especially thank , , , , and finally, last but not least, .

I was also contacted and encouraged by many — so thank you.

Setting the stage — demographics

Now without further ado, let me give you some overall demographics. We received over 110 responses to our survey. Unsurprisingly we saw that 81% of the respondents live in Canada.

Also the majority of the respondents were Male — over 89%, actually.

I tried my best to reach out to female collectors — to get their perspective, but it is undeniable looking at most club memberships and show attendance, that men make up the majority of the “organized” hobby. This was confirmed by the community stats I have.

There is work to do to make females feel more included. I would like to do this in future surveys — and find ways encourage more female participation.

Unsurprisingly, just as we see in the community, the age skew is also older as well. The largest cohort in our survey are those aged 55–64.

The majority of the collectors are life-time collectors — over 60% are collectors for over 40 years.

We have work to do in encouraging young collectors to learn about the hobby — one suggestion that has been floated is maybe looking at stamp collecting courses like they do in other countries. Seemingly it was a more divisive idea with those who took the survey. I know this is how I was introduced to the hobby — so I am biased to think it’s a great idea.

Do you think elementary schools should have classes on stamp collecting?

Collector Preferences

The next thing I wanted to know is what were the preferences of most collectors. We started off with the question:

The majority of those surveyed preferred the term Philatelist vs Stamp Collector — as a matter of fact 6.5 of 10 users preferred that term to describe themself. Interestingly I have seen showing women prefer to see themselves as Stamp Collectors — although the data from my female cohort did not show this. They too prefer the term Philatelist.

Most Philatelists, though consider themselves collectors, rather than as investors.

The majority also prefer paper price guides, but only slightly.

This to me I found quite interesting, as online would be more readily up to date and likely more accurate. In a future survey, I want to see the results of of digital vs paper. I missed that on this go, but hey there is always next time.

Most collectors prefer collecting Mint stamps — but we will see later in collecting, that a significant amount collect cancelled stamps.

In terms of the Philatelists, the most important tool is the tong or tweezer. It was a curiosity to me to know what tool people preferred.

The pointed tip and spoon/paddle tip are the most popular. The angle tip is the least popular. Funny enough — that is my most preferred.

Finally — but certainly not least I asked where people prefer to buy their stamp material. Not surprisingly E-bay was the most preferred spot — I think it has to do with breadth of product, buyer protection and ease. I know it’s been my go to for a while.

The rest of the selections were not a surprise for me — well except for one. I was surprised by how many used Bourse as a preferred source. It’s something for me to explore more in the future.

Also in the future, I will likely want to relook at this question for better clarity as Ebay technically is an auction, as Delcampe and Hipstamp — so I would suspect that Auctions overall are just the most preferred source.

And so this concludes the part of preferences — I hope you found it illuminating.

What & How They Collect

I couldn’t wait for this part of the survey to hear the results. Particularly I was intrigued by about what countries people collect. I was curious how it would if we asked Canadian Collectors.

Now we have some data.

Canada by far is the most popular. Interestingly, United Kingdom comes in 2nd ahead of Pre-Confederation, United States and Commonwealth. Germany also has a strong showing. After them in the #7 slot is a non-preference, and the countries drop off. Other countries rounding out the top 10 is France, Russia and Ireland.

Next up was the themes or topics people collect. I guess I should have not been surprised — but the majority, almost 42% had not interested in themes and collect anything. What I did learn though is there is a lot of diversity in the themes people collect. Those who did not select anything, had lots of diversity. Unsurprisingly for Canada, the Royal Family was tops. Also animals was a top one — which is not shocking either considering how popular the snow animals stamps were this year requiring extra print runs. I was also happy to see trains and maps so high up. These are some of the most favourite stamps in my collection

When I was preparing this survey, the feedback I had was to pull out specializations out of themes. Originally I had them together. While 52% don’t really specialize, it seems there are some very specific areas getting lots of attention. Postmarks are a topic very popular on the channels I tend to read . Actually most of the items on this list. However, it’s hard to ignore that there is a significant amount of very specialized collecting going on, that does not go into a common bucket.

Harkening back to the demographics, which skews a bit older, about 1 in 4 of people who answered the survey are exhibitors. The younger the collector less likely they have exhibited. However, I know there is a lot of interest in this space based on the attendance and reaction to exhibition content (and the other questions later about what people wish they could improve on or look forward to learn.) If anyone is listening to this — please check out the had a great Zoom with Jane Sodero, Robert Lunn and Jean Wang.

Next the survey looked at how people collect. Some of the results were surprising, some were not.

For example, knowing most people told us they preferred mint stamps, I was not surprised to see the majority of people did not use stamp hinges.

I also don’t think it’s surprising to see how popular stock mounts are

Seemingly seeing how popular cancels and postmarks was, I was curious to see if people created their own covers.

I guess it’s not surprising it’s a very specialized aspect for collectors. Although, 82.7% told us they collect cancelled stamps and 52.7% collect postmarks. I guess that’s why I should not have been surprised such a significant amount of collectors also collect Official First Day Covers.

Canada Post does a fantastic job with them, so I am surprised to see such a large percentage collecting them.

Just as OFDCs have a large minority collecting them. The same is true of plate blocks as well. Plate blocks tend to be something connected to older stamps, as those sheets aren’t printed the way they were. Unfortunately, I don’t have data to prove this, but anecdotally, I recall when I was younger in the 1980s, plate blocks was something very sough after to collect.

I won’t lie the next two questions of survey were important to me. Why? I was curious how I compared to others. I love to collect postcards. I have been collecting them likely longer than stamps. I don’t have a rare collection, but I always would buy them when travelling before the time of having a digital camera in a phone was thing. It seems lots of us both collect stamps and postcards. More than half of us do at almost 53%

The next question to which I waited with bated breath was about souvenir sheets. I love to collect Souvenir sheets, but I feel Canada Post does not release enough of them. When Jim Philips did an AMA with CSN recently he said there were a bit divisive of a product. It seems I am not alone in my love of them. So glad to see such a high number love them, and I hope this encourages more souvenir sheets in the future! I just love how Canada Post does extended design with them.

Now we will change speeds to look at certification and the expertization of stamps. 36.4% of you told us you owned certified stamps, and yet only 20.2% told us you had paid to have stamps certified yourself. This led to me having a question “Would you only trust certified stamps when buying a rare stamp?” which I had to quickly re-pivot after sharing early results as people pointed out I did not define rare. So the new question was reworded to ask “Would you only trust certified stamps when buying a rare (over 250$) stamp?”

The conversation with the community of this result was a hot topic. At first I mis-interpreted this to mean people did not trust certification — but after good discussions— I think we should read it more as people willing to take the risk. Thankfully I had add another question to find out what the tolerance of this was. Almost 25% are willing to take the risk if they trust the source — however, over 26% told us $500 is the threshold they would use as the main value range to certify.

So overall what I see here, is if the dealer is trusted, and the value of the stamp is under 500$ it’s unlikely someone will certify. At 500$ CAD you may want to consider certification, or if it’s something rare or scarce regardless of value— as 13.21% told us — is a reason to certify.

The next area we delved into was that of price guides. Yes, we know the majority of people do not consider themsleves as investors, but it seems many of you still want a price guide. As a matter of fact 86.2% of you told us you own a price guide.

Not surprisingly for Canadian collectors, almost 75% of you told us the Price Guide brand you owned was Unitrade, by far the leader. 53% own a Scott catalog. About 25% own a Stanley Gibbons, the top five is rounded out by Michel at 15.63% and Yvert at 3%.

In the list of questions, I was curious to know was what schedule people had when buying their price guides.

45.9% told us you have no schedule when buying a new price guide. The most frequent schedule seems to be every five years, with 20% of you telling us that’s when you chose to buy a new price guide. There is a solid number of you at 14.8% never buy a new one.

Another interesting aspect was how many other Philatelic books you own besides price guides. The majority of respondents have a nice little library in their house with 48% of you telling us you own 6 or more books.

If I am honest I only one non-price guide book, which is the fantastic book by Charles Verge on the Seaway Invert stamp. I guess in the future, I’d love to ask people what are the books they own. I am lucky as a member of a couple of societies to have access to libraries so I’d love some recommendations.

Finally, in this section of how you all collect, I was curious about how much is spent monthly.

A little more than 34% of you spend under $49 a month. 28.2% of you spend $50–$99 monthly, and 17.3% of you spend over $200 a month on stamps.

Interestingly, though, when we asked in the survey “Have you ever spent too much on stamps you could not tell your partner?” — 35.5% said yes — so there are are likely some splurges that are happening outside this monthly spend.

Finally in this financial aspect area of collecting, we asked about NFTs.

45.37 are absolutely not interested in collecting NFT Stamps. What’s interesting to me — is how many are unsure or said yes, which means there is an openness to the idea. Looking at the success of the collaboration on the fractional sale of the British Guiana 1c Magenta — the future is exciting. They have sold about 6 million USD of shares in the stamp.

Other countries have also released NFT stamps, such as the US which released their , who has had contracts with Marvel Comics for NFTs. These NFT stamps sold-out very quickly.

So far there is no interest in it from Canada Post per a recent interview with CSN and Jim Philips. However, as a new Director of Stamp Services Bronwyn Graves takes over, we will have to see what happens.

How We Connect

I think one thing people would say about Stamp Collecting is that it can be a social hobby if you want it to be. There are lots of opportunities to connect and meet others. So I was kind of curious especially with Covid how people were staying connected and informed within the hobby.

The first thing I asked was if people we a part of a local stamp club. Almost 62% respondents are members of a local stamp club.

Now while a majority are part of a local club, there is a split of people who are members of a national or international club like BNAPS, RPSC or other.

Next I was curious about attendance at stamp shows. One of the great things these clubs at all levels do is host fantastic stamp shows. I wanted to know once people feel Covid is under control how many shows they plan to attend. On average most people will attend about 2 shows a year.

We also learned that most people want to stay local with shows with only 26% of people attending shows out of province, and only 19.4% outside their current country. So in many ways, the stamp shows are still mostly a local affair.

Even so, meeting in person, even in the time of Covid is a key way people connect in the Hobby — and still a preferred way. However, Facebook groups and Zoom rank very high right now, which I suspect is the impact of Covid. 24 months ago many in the hobby were not as aware of the software. They have now taken to it as important channel for connection.

Virtual events, forums and Facebook messenger round out the other important channels that people stay connected.

Another aspect of connection too, is another related questioned I asked. Which was to examine the channels people want to use to stay up to date.

First off I was curious to look at the channels people prefer to get their news and stay up to date with on the latest in stamp collecting? There was one clear winner, which was Social Media at almost 60% — although as a community builder, seeing “fellow stamp collectors” so high up made me feel so good with almost 42% choosing that option. Overall there is was a good mix of different channels across the board after social — and more about that in a moment — because I am sure you are curious about the best channels to head to.

Before we move onto this, I am happy to know almost 10% of people find Podcasts helpful to staying up to date so that makes me feel good. I also was surprised at how low magazines were on the list. It has always been an important source for me to stay up to date, more than any other channel. I guess it was for that reason I had to revisit the question I asked my Facebook group to larger surveyed public.

The clear winner is the Canada Post Details Magazine which is not surprising as a free magazine and a great source of information — with 54.4% choosing it. The Canadian Philatelist from the Royal Philatelic Society of Canada and Canadian Stamp News from Trajan are at 40%. BNAPS Topics, PHSC Journal and Linn’s are also really popular choices for the Canadian Collector to stay up to date.

Certainly the traditional print/online media magazines where many of us used to go for our news, but its clear Social Media is now the primary source. So what are the channels your fellow stamp collectors are hanging out in — as they say. Well we have the answer for you. We asked people:

There are three channels that stand above the rest: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This is not really surprised based on the demographics we know of these channels. For example, . Younger users are on . We did did ask about other channels like Snapchat and TikTok — and they did not register one vote. This was eye opening to me, to ensure I spend a bit more time on our YouTube channel I had been not really focused on.

It was also something eye opening to me — as well so I did not waste my time on channels people were not looking.

Final Questions

To end the survey, I had two free form areas for people to write in whatever they wanted. Using Tag Cloud software, I was able to gleam some interesting insights into you, my fellow collectors. As I mentioned earlier, while Exhibiting is not done by a majority of you, it was the top thing people wanted to improve about the way they currently practice their hobby. In exact order, actually this is what people want to improve

  1. Exhibiting
  2. Increase general knowledge
  3. Access to background/Ability to research on Stamps
  4. Better at organization
  5. More Time/More Money

More importantly than anything, I am so happy to know that this podcast satisfies 2 and 3 on most people’s list — so I hope to help bring even more stories in to you in the near future.

Which actually brings me to the last question — why do you collect?

Fun and Enjoyment — were certainly at the top of the list — but history and learning about the history behind the stamps was #1. I did not pay anyone to say that — but boy it made my day after all this work to know I was doing something hopefully adds enjoyment to you and your hobby.

So that’s it. These are things I learned and I hope you found it interesting as well. I hope to make this survey an annual tradition. I have some ideas of to make things better and I also appreciate any constructive feedback. You can drop me feedback via your favourite social tool.

If you enjoyed this research and would like to stay up to date with future surveys or out podcast, please consider subscribing to the newsletter I have just launched . You can sign up direct . Also, if you are not already following our podcast, you can find us on your favourite player . Finally check out our website — always the best place to stay up to date with our projects.

Thanks again everyone for who filled in the survey and made all of this possible. You have energized me for the work I do and continue to do!

See you soon and happy collecting!

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