– Hello, Graham, and welcome to the first interview of this season on the ‘Blog de timbrofil’! You take part of the new generation of stamp collectors. What makes collecting stamps interesting in our times?

– For me, it is the access to information that we now have. When I was a child, I used to collect stamps but really had no way to find out more about the stamp and the topic it was displaying. Today, you could get lost in a world of information from just typing in the description of a stamp in Google. You can quickly find pictures of the stamp and the series it belongs to, who the person or what the object on the stamp is, and you can find several blogs or chat rooms with people discussing that very stamp.

It makes stamp collecting very enjoyable today and you can spend hours just learning about a single stamp’s topic right from your smart phone.

– Social media tools are a wonderful way to promote our hobby, but are they helping to popularize philately among young generation?

– Great question, and I think the answer is yes, it does help to popularize philately among the younger generations but in new and exciting ways. Stamp collecting isn’t just about an album of stamps anymore, through social media we can see people making art with stamps, videos, fun graphics, blogs and more. I have been inspired by several creative ideas that I have seen on Instagram and Twitter, and I have also been told by some that the ‘Exploring Stamps’ videos have encouraged them to look into their stamp albums that were passed down to them.

So I think that social media is the future for stamp collecting, and I encourage anyone to explore philately online with the various social media tools out there. 

– That’s right, and your YouTube channel is one of the best looking example of exploring our fascinating world through stamps. You already send your followers to see Blue Mauritius, French Marianne, Namibian crystals, Antarctic explorers, Malta, Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty. What are the main criteria when you look for a subject?

– Believe it or not, most of those topics for the episodes were picked at random.  By selecting stamps at random from the box, I was introduced to topics that I would never have otherwise researched. I honestly did not know who Marianne was, or Maurice Bishop, or even what an Indian Gnat was. So I was very impressed with how stamps could be so fascinating when I started this video project, each time I would learn something very new.

I also try to make the topics appeal to both stamp collectors and non stamp collectors, so at times I have selected stamps that allow me to discuss philately as well as an interesting topic.

– Graham, what does your stamp collection look? Do you own many gems in it?

– My collection is a little disorganized at the moment. I have several stockbooks that I try to keep organized by continent, but I need to spend some quality time to clean them up, I moved a lot around while looking for stamps to help tell each episode’s story.

I don’t really have a lot of valuable gems in my collection, but I do like to collect stamps that tell a strange or fascinating story. Postage stamps that are 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars due to their hyperinflation for instance, or propaganda stamps from North Korea, these to me are fascinating and I prize them as my stamp gems. 

– And another question: do you really have a ‘Penny Black’ between your albums’ pages, as we seen in the 20th episode?

– Yes I do, I have a couple. The Penny Black is one of my favorite stamps, not just because it was the first stamp, but because it had such an impact in the world. I love studying history and geography, and my favorite time period is the Victorian Era (1837-1901), which basically started with the postage stamp in 1840.

Because of that little piece of paper, there was a shift in communication, where people began to write more letters, share more ideas and connect more with each other from all over. I believe that this helped set the stage for the success and achievement that the Victorian era is known for.  So it is fantastic to say that I own a true piece of that history, and that is the Penny Black.

– Stamp collecting is ‘a process of bringing order from disorder’, as Bill Gross said. This was your intention when you made the first season of ‘Exploring Stamps’? Tell me more about this!

– I am glad you brought that up! That quote really is the theme of the entire show. I take a box of ‘chaos’ and work to organize it into fun and interesting lessons that my viewers can enjoy. Every episode begins with the ‘disorder’ as I dig into a box of disorganized stamps. At the end of every episode, I place the stamp and any others that were used to tell the story in a stamp album. I am basically bringing order from the disorder, 1 stamp at a time.

– What I really appreciate are the details you use in your presentations. How much time do you invest in making a specific episode?

– Some episodes have taken as little as 30 hours of time from researching to filming and editing. But only a few have been that short to make. Most episodes take at least 40 hours or work, and some episodes have taken 50 or more. The longest episode to film was of course the Statue of Liberty one, where I was in 3 different cities and the filming took place over several weeks, the actual hours that were spent on making the video were well over 50.

It is a lot of hard work, especially the video editing, finding or making the right music, writing the script and of course filming the scenes several times before getting it right.

– They say that the video content on the internet will increase next years. How do you see your work in the future?

– There will probably be more people using video to explore the classic hobbies such as stamp collecting. I am not sure where my work will go in the future. I love making the videos as a hobby, so I will continue to try new things to take the viewers on adventures and learn about the world through postage stamps.

– Graham, many thanks for this interview! I invite you to address a short message to my blog’s readers.

– Thank you for considering me and asking such great questions. I want to encourage everyone to get creative with how they view stamp collecting and how they can get the most that our brilliant hobby has to offer. If you havent already done so, become a part of the stamp community online through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. There is a lot of interesting activity and articles that are shared, and of course visit/subscribe to great stamp blogs such as ‘Blog de timbrofil’.

Stamp collecting is a fantastic way to explore the world from your home, so I wish you all good fortune in your collection and that you pass on the excitement of stamp collecting to the younger generations to come. 

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