The Social Aspects Of Stamp Collecting
By and large Homo sapiens is a social creature. He builds his home in close proximity to others, he likes to mingle in crowds, to eat and be entertained in public places surrounded by others, and, above all, he longs for the companionship of others. Yet he can not attain his longing merely by attending public gatherings. He must find something in his life in which others, also, are interested. There must be a common denominator between humans to release the inhibitions and form the basis for a true meeting of minds. Stamp collecting is a very potent such common denominator. This social aspect of the hobby is one of its greatest attributes. It is not merely taking part in a mass demonstration such as, for instance, attending a baseball game with thousands of other people similarly interested. Or in attending the theater to enjoy a play surrounded by hundreds of others partaking of similar enjoyment. Such activities are pleasing and beneficial. But unless one can discuss the game or the play the experience is largely negative. A considerable part of the enjoyment of the game will have been lost unless you can find someone else who also was a witness. Then the two of you can, and will, relive the experience.
Stamp collecting is a pleasure in which you participate, and an experience which you will share with other collectors wherever you meet. It is, in fact, an open sesame to companionship and lifetime friendship with people of importance almost everywhere in the world. Your own position in the scheme of life is of no consequence. A paper hanger, because of his great interest in his stamps, was recently elected president of a stamp society whose members were largely high-powered executives in the financial world. The stamps had given the paper hanger a common ground of interest with interesting people whom he could never have met by any other means. The relationship was, of course, a two-way affair. The executives likewise had met through their hobby a person whom they would never have had the pleasure of knowing except through their collecting activities. Strangely enough they had found each other to be sound and interesting fellows worth while knowing.
This cutting across the lines of the "social classes" is widespread throughout the world of stamp collecting. The doors of the most "exclusive" stamp societies are wide open to everyone genuinely interested in collecting stamps. They are exclusive only in that to become a member one must possess the ordinary attributes of conducting oneself as a gentleman. I know of no stamp club in this country that bars membership to anyone of any race, creed, or color, nor do I believe that there are many philatelic societies anywhere in the world that make any such distinctions. This is not something widely publicized or boasted of. It is just a natural part of stamp collecting as a hobby that has always been so. In this respect stamp collecting is one of the great forces in the world that, in combination with other such universal activities, will eventually bring about peace and understanding among all the nations.
A stamp collectors' clambake in Rhode Island brings together several hundred people from a dozen or more states. An exhibition in Honolulu sends collectors travelling across the continent to be among those present, while one of the great international stamp shows staged in New York, London, Paris or elsewhere will have in attendance collectors from all parts of the earth. At such gatherings a great opera star becomes friends with an insurance clerk; a millionaire executive consults a news vendor; a cardinal talks stamps with an interested bystander.
Lasting friendships are born among people whose walks of life are far removed from each other but who have in their stamps found a kindred interest and a common denominator. The hobby is indeed one of the greatest democratic societies in all the world. Just how much ordinary business is conducted via an introduction by way of stamp collecting is beyond telling. But most certainly every salesman knows that he cannot sell anything unless he first can meet his prospective client on some common ground. If you have something to sell and your prospective client is "difficult," find out if he is a stamp collector. If he is, your course is clearly indicated. Become a collector yourself. Don't try to bluff it. Get right into it and become a dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast. Your reward will be twofold. You will have found one of the world's most engaging hobbies and your difficult client will soon seek you out.