– Thank you for accepting to take part in this interview, Mr. Max Peter. From your point of view, philately is just a collection of postage stamps?
– I wouldn’t like to approach the definition of philately in dictionaries, whoever can read it if they want.
Philately may be exactly what the collector wants: a way of relaxation, a relaxing leisure time, a form of aesthetic expression, a means of enriching the general culture or, on the contrary, an activity aimed at a purpose as precisely as possible.
Philately is also a subject of study. Some collectors are heading towards the branch of the international regulations ‘traditional philately’, studying technically the way the postage stamps are printed, their technical characteristics and potential varieties.
Other collectors embrace the area of the historical study of postage stamps circulation (postage rates, postal routes and destinations, postmarks etc.), making it part of the wider study of communications history.
Its beautiful part is that the passionate person chooses exactly what he wants, considering the inclination to certain areas, themes or periods and, of course, the budget he has. There is practically no restriction at the individual collector level.
Philately may also be an investment vehicle, but this requires advanced knowledge and experience for many years in the field. In other countries (not in Romania), philately can also be a commercial side.
– What were your first steps in the collectors’ world?
– I think I was in first class when my dad brought me (from a known person) a Zumstein catalog for European postage stamps. I already knew how to read, I was licking my nose through the books in the library, and the new book stunned me because I had never seen it before. I don’t speak the language, the German looking like something coming from the moon!
Today I don’t know how I then managed to understand, but after a few months of crafting and exercises made ’alive’ with unsightly marks on fragments (my mother brought me from the co-operative registry where she was working) I started to they realize, in general, what collection is supposed to be.
It also helped me a lot one of my classmates (who had already begun to collect postage stamps) and who took me (along with his father) to one of the many Bucharest philatelic clubs that existed in those years, making me a philatelic ’with papers’.
I haven’t stopped since then. I was lucky to meet real personalities who guided me in the first steps in philately. I cannot help reminding Nicolae Tripcovici and Kiriac Dragomir. I liked to read, I was lucky to receive from the oldest a lot of old literature and catalogs.
I didn’t just rely on that, though. I’ve been studying a lot, a few summers I’ve spent going through thousands of magazines and catalogs borrowed from where I can find or even bought from older collectors because there was nothing in the shops of that times. All the money I had was spent either on the postage stamps or on the literature.
– I know you are a careful and critical analyst of the philatelic market that is related to Romania. What is the current trend of practicing philately in our times?
– In my opinion, if there are no changes in the near future, philately could finally give its end to the public. There are a lot of passionate collectors, but the situation in which they operate is not at all favorable, even worse than the direction towards which international philately is directed. In Romania, unfortunately, some tendencies and circumstances are particularly dangerous for the future of philately:
– the issuer of the postage stamps (Romfilatelia), through the policy it has adopted for many years to ’break’ the postage stamp, transforming it from a means of payment of the postal service into a speculative object;
– Romanian legislation, as opposed to regulations anywhere else (both in the EU and in almost any member country of the UN and the Universal Postal Union) imposes restrictions on any postal stamp transactions, including them among objects belonging to the mobile cultural heritage following arbitrary, unjustified scientific decisions; in spite of this, even if they are part of the patrimony, in the last decades no person paid from public money has done anything to capitalize on the so-called patrimony through studies and/or research; the imposition of interdictions along with the total lack of interest of the authorities in the cultural exploitation of philately and the lack of any support for philatelic activities can only lead to a decrease in the number of collectors and a diminished value of collections; (to make a bracket, the words ’stamps’ and ’philately’ are completely missing in the 2016-2020 culture strategy);
– unlike national philatelic associations or federations in other countries, our national federation and local circles/clubs receive absolutely no support either from the national postal administration or from the public administration bodies or from the cultural directorates; many clubs have no headquarters, no one cares what collectors do.
– And about the Romanian philatelists of the year 2016, what do you think?
– The Romanian philatelists survive in a hostile environment, in my opinion. There is still a core of passionate collectors who continue to organize local or regional exhibitions, there are still passionate enthusiasts who continue to publish articles, information, studies and research. The lack of headquarters for clubs and clubs led to the organizing of fairs of collectors who, of course, help to perpetuate as a species of the philatelists.
My personal regret is that the number of collectors interested in traditional philately and postal history has continued to shrink.
On the other hand, I’m very glad that younger collectors are also interested in developing this beautiful passion. That’s why I think the passion will not die forever.
– Do you encourage the young generation of collectors to join a philatelic association?
– The answer is certainly ’yes’. The beginner collector needs the support of more experienced colleagues, and philatelic circles and clubs are the best way to achieve this goal, in my opinion.
On the other hand, the step towards so-called competitive philately is a necessary one, once it has reached a certain level. It should not be forgotten that the participation (as exhibitor) of any international philatelic manifestation can only be done through the national federation, as international regulations so provide.
– Your blog, romanianstampnews.blogspot.ro, is one of the ’online windows’ of Romanian philately, open to the whole world. What’s the most interesting story about it?
– In the very first year of my blog activity, I published a short article in which I drew attention to false fantasies offered on an online auction portal by a merchant from Germany. That person broke the article and accused me of naming him, insulting me. Then I got a prompt response from several readers of the blog, to whom, honestly, I didn’t expect, and who enjoyed me very much.
– In addition to writing dozens of articles annually on the blog, you also give those interested an access to your studies through the guides collected in the Romanian Philatelic Library. Have you also thought about the need to publish an online philatelic magazine under your supervision?
– I admit that I thought of an online magazine just before opening the blog. I’ve been working in the media for many years, and I thought I could do it. Then I gave up the idea (somewhat forced by some health problems).
But I didn’t abandon the idea anyway. I hope that I’ll find a sufficiently motivated collector to start such an initiative that I’m ready to support.
– If you were to choose one postage stamp for your personal collection that you wanted all your life, what would that be?
– It might seem curious, but now I don’t have the desire to have a particular stamp. The opening offered in the last 20 years of internet allowed me to admire (virtually) all the world’s rarities. I can say that I quieted that ’thirst’ that exists in any collector, not having the desire to possess physically any particular postage stamp.
Rather, I’m constantly keen to discover a new variety of brands I have accumulated over the years.
– Thank you for this interview! Please address a short message to the readers of Blog de timbrofil’.
– I would like to tell any collector, be it novice or advanced, not to let die this beautiful passion, to try to pass it on.
If you’ve read so far, thank you for your patience.
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