How many stamp collectors left in North America?

First of all, I understand that accuracy is impossible to achieve , but are there young, new stamp collectors emerging? Or is this hobby (and market) an inverted pyramid? .. just wondering.


  • 22 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • At last count there were an estimated 35 left. As a result we have been designated an endangered species. In some states there are no reported surviving philatelists. To compensate for this inconvenient truth, multiple shadow collectors have been created to give the appearance of a much greater community. For instance, in these forums Ted, George, Michael, Carol and I are really only one poster.
  • I am a half wit. I collect stamps. Do I still count?
  • Yes Wayne, so 35-1/2.
  • Rene
    declining hobby.
    Will never die completely. But in another 50 years prob 90% less per capita than 40 years ago.
    When I was a kid in the early 80s I had numerous stamp collecting friends.
    I do not know a single kid these days among friends and relatives that collect.
    So there is your sad but honest reality.
  • At last count there were an estimated 35 left. As a result we have been designated an endangered species. In some states there are no reported surviving philatelists. To compensate for this inconvenient truth, multiple shadow collectors have been created to give the appearance of a much greater community. For instance, in these forums Ted, Ron, Michael, Carol and I are really only one poster.
  • With modern day video games and cell phones it has become obsolete. Although if more ppl would share their collections online it be great. I actually got back to collecting after stumbling upon a youtube video.
  • edited February 14 0 LikesVote Down
    Online is a game changer for stamp collecting as it makes collecting and exchanging global and much easier. I've read estimates of up to 30 million plus collectors worldwide so North America maybe represents 30% of that number. Curious what others might think.
  • Hi Andrew
    not sure why you would think North America being that high?
    Less than 5% of the World population lives in North America.
    I would think it would be much closer to that percentage. There is little reason to think stamp collecting is much lower in certain countries. Except maybe some 3rd world countries or others that have more pressing issues, like civil war, poverty etc
  • Linn's Stamp News estimates that more than 5 million people in the U.S. collect stamps.
  • One thing that I've observed is that prices for choice philatelic material, once deemed "unattainable" by many collectors is becoming relatively affordable. In other words,, nice stamps are declining in relative price. I personally am enjoying the buyers market. But I wonder if this is the result of declining numbers of collectors ( demand0 and increasing stock available as estates come on the market?
  • 50,000 serious philatelists and about 500,000 casual stamp collectors in North America.
    I would say from personal experience, Americans, British, German, and Russians have strong concentrations of collectors as well. Tends to attract people who love detail , history, geography. Most people I exchange with and fellow penpals and those who love the hobby , most are from British Commonwealth Countries, or former. Also Russians and Germans. I have no idea why, But this is my own personal experience
  • Unfortunately, the reality is that the hobby and its related profession are moribund. I expect that once all the Boomer collectors are deceased it will go the way of cigar bands, match covers, buttons, and other previously popular collectibles.
    There will be very, very few serious philatelists among Millennials and members of Generations X, Y, and Z, likely numbering a few thousands in the Americas and Europe combined, and I'm being very optimistic.
  • WOW if I live another 100 years maybe a C3a will be cheep so I can fill my Airmail collection.
  • edited February 16 2 LikesVote Down
    Don"t count on it. The antique car hobby has seen a decline in pricing on pre-WWII cars, even as 60s muscle cars are reaching for the stratosphere. .The nicely restored 4 door Packards, Cadillacs, large Buicks, even Pierce Arrow and other better cars are off up to 50% as far as actual sell price is concerned (not the hokey auction results). . Upper end V-12's and V-16's less so., Duesenbergs, Bugattis, Talbots and other upper echelon cars are pretty much unscathed.

    The various strata of true antique have followed the same pattern.

    Lots of reasons - discussion boards in the various fields note that people have less free time. That is not true - they use their time differently. They stare at their cell phones, they 4instant message with others, they read forums instead of books (guilty).They choose to be busy ....Ditch the modern "time savers" (wasters) and you will have all kinds of time.
  • Rene
    prices are going down, because the internet makes it a LOT easier to find stuff.
    I used to sell books and I always used this example:

    Say there is a RARE book with maybe 4,000 copies that survived the years.
    Pre Internet there were 20,000 used/rare books stores.
    Say 5% of the surviving books are available for sale = 200 copies
    The rest collects dust in people's attics, basements whatever.

    On average ONE out of 100 dealers has this book in stock.
    You need to contact 100 dealers to find that book. That's semi rare.

    Now almost all dealers have their better inventory online.
    Say 75% of the books are online: That means with one or two internet searches you have about 150 copies of this book to chose from. Not rare at all any more.

  • So fascinating. I did a non-scientific focus group yesterday. Found a C3a ( ) listed for $529,000. I asked four very educated folks ( age 30s) what they thought this obvious philatelic mistake was worth? They asked how many there were, plus other questions. Then i asked them to guess the sale price. The highest estimated non collectors' value- maybe $700-1000 but most agreed that's a generous amount for a small piece of little old paper ( they hardly ever even used postage stamps anymore). When the asking price of $529,000 was revealed, ALL said" that's incorrect. No way, ridiculous, just small paper square, etc".... gave me a lot to think about.
  • And those small little diamonds and rubies and emeralds are just colorful baubles ??? I find it hard to believe that "Very educated folks" would guess a value of $700 to $1000 for something where only 100 copies exist.
  • We are all taught to value little colored rocks, shiny gold and precious metals. That's as old as the civilizations. Small pieces of paper reflecting that we paid to send messages on paper or pay for a package do not have the same imprimatur, especially knowing that it reflects at most 180 years of human history. One must be taught to understand their value. We were. I absolutely adore these small pieces of frail paper and the history, times, people and countries they have represented. But generations that come ( and it's happening quickly sadly) just do not. It's up to us to TRY to teach them.
  • This conversation reminds me of a great song from 1972 by Don McLean "The More You Pay (The More It's Worth)" when a young boy ends up with a horse for a dollar!
    Maybe the C3a should be put up for auction on HipStamp with a starting price of $1 and find out what it is really worth to this community of buyers! I have to doubt there are many millionaires trolling HipStamp looking for a bargain C3a at half a million dollars!

  • I remember in school, local stamp club came and introduced our school to "Philatelics", It was fun and informative with the chance invitation to one of there meetings and a chance to attend a local Stamp Show, that and the fact my dad was in the Navy and brought money and stamps home from all over the world made it an easy decision to spend some Birthday money on a starter set and an Album! that was about 50 years ago!! I have since introduced my sons and grandchildren(8) both boys and Girls to the hobby and have taken a couple with me to the shows in San Francisco. If we don't want to become Extinct, we must try and spread the word, like how I was introduced to this great Habit/Hobby!!! Just saying....We need to do our part to help it GROW!!!
  • edited February 19 2 LikesVote Down
    In order for philately to flourish, the corresponding interest in history and geography must also keep up. I am not sure how much of an interest young people today have in these subjects. I grew up going to the library and staring at their giant atlases for hours wondering what in God's name Galapagos was. This was at age 10. I am now 50 and the same zest for these matters continues to flourish. I am sure there are some who are interested, but not in the same numbers as pre millenium change. I am not blaming technology for it, Its more cultural.
  • Like Brian, I had a strong interest in maps. That interest developed around the same time I started collecting stamps around ten years of age. Of course, I had a world map on my bedroom wall. But, unlike anyone else I knew, I had two USGS topographic maps trimmed and taped together and hanging on my wall, showing my small home town and the surrounding area in amazing detail. A little later, I developed an interest in shortwave radio. That hobby, along with maps and the stamps, were the trifecta. I could listen to the radio broadcasts from around the world in English and see the locations of the broadcasting countries on the world map and work on my stamps from around the world. Live was good! :smiley:
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