About Stamp Collectors - Part 2

This phenomenon was repeated in 1956 when another great International Philatelic Exhibition was staged in New York City. This time one of the shows to open New York City's fabulous Coliseum. And here, again, the enormous crowds were repeated, hotels crowded to overflowing, restaurants unable to cope with the multitude. In fact, it is a phenomenon that is repeated in New York City once every ten years when, at a cost of over a quarter million dollars stamp collectors from all corners of the earth gather to compete with each other to determine the world's finest collections. There are annual, National Stamp Shows, at which many thousands gather each year in various cities throughout the nation, more about these later, but the Great International Shows staged usually once every ten years, are the most obvious expression of the far-flung realm of Philately.

Non-collectors who have stood by and watched these phenomena have intently studied the people waiting in line for their chance to enter the great halls where the exhibitions take place. And,, no doubt, have tried to discover something about them, some peculiarity, that would give their avocation away. But they have studied in vain, Stamp collectors are just people. There are, to be sure, "an awful lot" of stamp collectors in America, in the world. Just how many no one really knows. It has been estimated that there are twenty-five million in the United States. No one has been able to fute this estimate, but then no one has been able to prove it.

The time was, not so long ago, when a stamp collector admitted to his hobby rather sheepishly. He wasn't ashamed of it but then he didn't go out proclaiming it to the world. If cornered, he might state in defense of his hobby that King George V and a lot of other crowned heads were also stamp collectors and that, in fact, stamp collecting was known as the "hobby of kids and kings." The "kids and kings" sounded great but a mere adult, being neither, found little solace in being classed with either. Then came President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a stamp collector and made no bones about it. He saw to it that his Postmaster General James A. Farley, issued lots of new stamps, and the President even helped design some of them, as when he arranged that the "Presidential Series" should picture the presidents in their order of succession according to the denomination of the stamp.

Stamps of the Presidential Series
Stamps of the "Presidential Series"

Thus President Washington's portrait appeared on the one-cent stamp, John Adams on the two-cent, and so on right up the line to Grover Cleveland whose portrait appears on the twenty-two-cent stamp. They couldn't carry the idea any further, for stamps after the twenty-two-cent denomination skipped to twenty-four cents. Harrison, McKinley, "Teddy" Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding and Coolidge all appeared on the higher denomination stamps in order of succession but the continuity of the denominations was broken after Cleveland. Many think it was a mistake not to carry the numerical sequence of the denominations right up to the twenty-ninth president even if there was no need for such stamps. Hoover could not be included as he was, and is at the time this book is being written, still living, and by law we may not picture living persons on our stamps or currency.