– Hello Mr. Pateman, and thank you for enjoying the idea of an interview for the readers of ’Blog de timbrofil’. What do you think is the cultural importance of collecting stamps these days?

– I am impressed by postal history collections which turn into social history studies. For Romania, there is a remarkable project at Boston University based originally on the business archive of Iacob Bercovici of Bacău. This project was started by a Professor, Thomas Glick, who is also a collector himself. See http://www.bu.edu/jewishstudies/research/shtetl-project/.

– How long have you been collecting for, and when did you start?

– In primary schools in the 1950s there were stamp clubs organised by teachers. The clubs met in break times. It was there that I began collecting. The clubs were also places where you learnt lots of history, geography and how to spell words like ‘Czechoslovakia’.

– Have you faced any challenges while collecting items for your collection?

– I always have two active collections – one which is hard work and one which is easy. If you only have one collection which is hard work, you can go to stamp exhibitions and never find anything for it! So it is a good idea also to have a collection where it is easy (and cheap) to find things.

– Regarding your own collection, what stamp in it do you consider is a real treasure, not only in terms of price?

– It changes, but I am always pleased when I find something with a historical connection. I enjoy Googling to find out who was the writer, who was the person who received the letter.

– Please tell us something about your useful philatelic blog www.armeniazemstvo.com.

– I began to use e-mail and the Internet in about 1999. I started the blog in 2010. I already had a ‘static’ website but the blog was easier to keep changing. It’s important to me that I write nearly all of it and that readers then contribute. I wish I could index it by theme but the Blogger software I use does not seem to allow that.

– I know that you are a stamp dealer, specialized in Russian Area and East European philately. How has the internet affected your business?

– When I started as a dealer in 1993, I used to send Approval books (Carnets a choix; Auswahlheften). That is now finished, finito, kaput, dead as a dead parrot. So now I sell mainly at stamp exhibitions, in auctions, and direct to a very small number of clients. I no longer use the telephone for my business and I stay in touch with clients by email. These are big changes.

– Stamp collecting has changed throughout history, always trying to keep up with the challenges of historical realities. Have you noticed some new trends in stamp collecting in our days?

– If you look at early stamp collecting (say before 1914 or even 1950s) it is really primitive: collectors always damaged their stamps or their covers and all that old material is now left to us in terrible condition – really terrible. Modern collectors generally look after their collections better, but not always. In Italy they are only just learning that it is not a good idea to get ‘experts’ to autograph your Romanian Bulls’ Head covers.

– Do you think it is a good idea to popularize this hobby among young generation’s members?

– Everyone says we should but the world of young people has changed. You can learn about history and geography and spelling in other ways. What I learnt in my school club was important to me but nowadays maybe I would have learnt it in a different way.

– Many thanks for this interview! Please address a message to the readers of ’Blog de timbrofil’.

– Good luck with ‘Blog de timbrofil’ in 2017!

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