Category Archives: Hinges and Tongs

Demographics of Stamp Collectors

Late last spring the Rochester Philatelic Association collected birthday information from its members.  No, the data has not been turned over to the NSA, the IRS, or even the APS, and your birthdays have not been, and will not be, posted on Facebook!  Rather, we thought it might be interesting to evaluate the demographics of stamp collectors.  Granted, we are a small club, and a regional one to boot, but there seems no reason to think that our little enclave of philatelic enthusiasts should be radically different from the overall population of collectors, or at least collectors who opt to join clubs.  So what did we learn?


The average age of the 88 members for which we obtained data (which was virtually everyone), was 70.7 years as of June, 2015.  A whopping 28 members, or almost one third of us, are over 75 years of age.  When portrayed in frequency format using 3 year increments, the modal population is 66-69 years old.  Our youngest member is 37 and she (note that pronoun, but that is a different demographic issue) just joined us this year.  We have/had only 3 members less than 51 years of age.  One just moved to South Carolina.  Ouch!

So those are facts, but what might this tell us, if anything?  Well, at first glance one might surmise that we are simply an aging group, destined to a slow but steady decline as the years and decades pass.  But one could argue that it might be more complicated than that.  Perhaps the fact that almost 40% of our members are between the ages of 63-72 just reflects the fact that folks turn to philately at/or near retirement.  Or that stamp collectors who are younger haven’t the time, or motivation, to join clubs such as ours until they retire.  Either way, it might be this demographic group (retirees or those approaching such) that the hobby, and clubs like ours, should target rather than thinking it can make significant inroads on attracting the 30 or 40 somethings who are busy working and raising families.

Of course, these are just my thoughts from an interesting data set.

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Christmas Seals


written for the Feb-April 2015 issue of Hinges and Tongs

Rochester Philatelic Association member Florence Wright  opened the first RPA  meeting of 2015 by asking the 28 in attendance if they knew what these five items had in common.


Of course, we knew the title of her talk so it was a bit of a rhetorical inquiry, but we all learned a lot in the next 40 minutes as Florence explained the 108 year history of Christmas Seals.

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Learning to Exhibit

This is a two part post reporting the results of two Rochester Philatelic Association meetings in early 2014.

Part 1.  January 9th, 2014 meeting, text from Hinges and Tongs Jan-March 2014 issue 

It is a New Year and the Rochester Philatelic Association ushered it in on January 9th by learning a bit about the art of exhibiting. Past president, and ROPEX chairman Tom Fortunato described the basics of exhibiting to a audience of 28 members.

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Minerals on Stamps

On November 14, 2013 I presented a program simply entitled “Minerals on Stamps” to the Rochester Philatelic Association.  As a retired geologist, collecting minerals and other geology related topical stamps is a natural merger of my collecting interests.

Did you know that the checklist of gems and minerals on stamps maintained by the Gems and Minerals Study Unit of the American Topical Association has over 3000 entries?  Or that all 8 of the US mineral stamps depict specimens that reside in the Smithsonian?  The FDC with the four 10 cent stamps issued in 1974 is depicted shown below.  The mineral specimen in the bottom stamp is affectionately referred to as “The Postage Stamp Tourmaline.” It is from the pegmatite mines outside San Diego, CA.

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