– Hi and welcome to my blog’s Q&A! Who is the stamp collector Ian Hunter?

– I am a collector of old US stamps, with a focus on the Washington/Franklin series. I also collect postal history from around my area. I’ve been collecting stamps since I was 8 years old, and got started in the hobby when my older sister started collecting stamps from the mail.

In 2016, I got accepted into the APS’s Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship, which just concluded for me last August. I also own a social media site for philatelists called Stamp Collecting Spot, and I am currently in the process of starting a stamp club in my area since there are none nearby.

– A question that both stamp collectors and non-collectors often ask – ‘Is stamp collecting dying?’

– This question is impossible to answer with certainty. By looking at APS membership numbers alone, there has definitely been a downward trend – so one might conclude that the hobby is indeed dying. But on the other hand, there are millions of collectors who aren’t APS members, so you can’t base the hobby’s health on APS membership.

In many parts of Asia, especially among the upper-class, philately is growing rapidly. It’s impossible to measure the true number of philatelists in Asia and around the world though, so it’s hard to say if the hobby is growing or shrinking. One can only speculate; unfortunately there are no definitive answers.

– You said you collect old US stamps. How do you look for them, and how does your albums look like?

– I mostly find stamps on eBay, but also at stamp shows whenever I attend one. I keep most of my stamps in a set of Mystic Heirloom albums as well as a stock book. None of my albums are very organized, though. They’re actually kind of random. I guess organizing my stamp albums is something I should add to my to-do list!

– Stamp collecting can be both a hobby and a business. How important is advertising  for stamp collecting industry?

– Advertising is as important in the stamp business as in any other business. If you don’t advertise, almost no one will know you exist. On the other hand, the more you advertise, the more well-known and profitable your business will become.

– Let’s take a recent example – the US solar eclipse stamps. What’s your opinion on their marketing program?

– I think their marketing program was very well done. Obviously, the solar eclipse stamp was a huge hit, both because it was released at a time when the hype around the total solar eclipse of August 21st was mounting, and because of it’s unconventional feature where the moon changes appearance when exposed to warmth.

– You manage the Stamp Collecting Spot website, the online place where stamp collectors meet and interact. How did it start everything?

– Stamp Collecting Spot started out as just a blog where I shared some of my philatelic knowledge. But then about 3 months ago I decided to repurpose the site as a social network for philatelists. I wanted to make a place where philatelists could easily intereact with one another – basically a Facebook for stamp collectors.

With this new purpose came a new goal: promote and grow the hobby. Everything I do for the site now is meant to make it easier for philatelists to establish or expand their presence online, and easier for beginning collectors to find help and support on their philatelic journeys.

– How much visibility do stamp shops, dealers or collectors gain by advertising on your website?

– According to my Google Analytics, the Directory page has received over 100 pageviews. Also, if you visit the Directory page, you can see the total number of views each listing has received. One listing alone has already been viewed 50 times!

This may not be considered great visibility, but you have to take into consideration that Stamp Collecting Spot’s traffic numbers are still pretty low, and it’s 100% free to advertise so businesses have nothing to lose.

– Your posts consist of news, articles and guides. Let’s talk about the last ones! How useful are these for young collectors?

I can’t say for sure, but so far I’ve only received positive comments on the guides so people obviously find them useful. I personally think they have a lot of valuable information that beginners would benefit from.

– Ian, you graduated from the YPLF (Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship) program in August this year. What should people know about it?

– People should know that it is simply the best program young philatelists can be a part of. As a Fellow, you get to attend three APS shows – two summer shows and one winter show – and you get a trip to the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte Pennsylvania, and to the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. We even got a tour of the Capitol building after visitor hours, and watched congress vote in-person!

Although the YPLF is a lot of fun and you get to do many interesting things, it does require hard work and the assignments are time consuming especially if you have a lot of school work. But the difficulty is far outweighed by the incredible things you’ll experience, the knowledge you’ll gain, the opportunities you’ll have, and the many connections you’ll make.

If you know of a young philatelist, I highly recommend they apply for the YPLF. It will be the experience of a lifetime!

– What are your future plans?

– I’d like to continue growing my website, Stamp Collecting Spot, promoting the hobby, attending shows, and just being a more well-rounded philatelist. As for non-philatelic pursuits, I’m very much into entrepreneurship and would like to study business in college.

– Many thanks for this interview! Please address a few words to my readers! 

– Thank you for interviewing me. I’d just like to encourage everyone who reads this to think about ways you can keep the hobby of stamp collecting alive and growing. Perhaps you can introduce stamp collecting to the younger generation, whether they are relatives or not. Be creative, make it fun, and help them whenever they have questions. My goal in philately is to grow the hobby, and hopefully you can make that one of your goals as well.

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