Take advantage 
of the summer doldrums

The summer tends to mean the doldrums when it comes to stamp collecting.

Sure the American Philatelic Society has its big event, but major shows are generally not held in mid-summer. Similarly, many clubs pretty much shut down during the summer months.

It makes sense. Summer is a time when people are on vacation, or spending time outdoors. Boat owners, cottage dwellers, campers, cyclists and more, all tend to be a lot busier this time of year.

It isn’t confined to stamp collecting.

Investment analysts refer to this time of year as the summer doldrums. The summer means reduced volumes, which means that transactions can have a bigger impact. That makes the market a little more volatile for low-volume stocks, especially these days, when computer programs are often used to trigger buy and sell decisions.

Somehow, I doubt that the value of stamps is affected by the same factors, but I mention it just because it is kind of nice to know that the stamp market can be subjected to the same ups and downs as the rest of the world.

Certainly, if I had a big-ticket stamp to put on the market, summer would not be a particular problem. Buyers in the stratospheric world of rare stamps are pretty good at keeping an eye out for scarcities, and are not likely to pass up a plum acquisition because they’d rather be grilling steaks in the backyard.

However, when it comes to stamp collecting, just because there are fewer shows and meetings, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on stamp collecting.

Summer is the time of year to blow the dust off that “get-around-to-it” list and see if you can make it a bit shorter.
Go through those stamps that just never made it onto an album page, work on that exhibit idea you’ve been thinking about for a long time, update the inventory, do a little research. If none of that strikes your fancy, this can be a great time just to check on the physical condition of your collection.

We all know better, but all too often stamps get stashed in those unused corners where they won’t be in the way of other family members. All too often those locations are places like the garage, or the basement, damp, too cold or too hot, and subject to incursions by everything from ants to curious pets.

Remember that paper, even the high-quality paper usually reserved for stamps, is still pretty delicate, and the covers may just be cheap high-acid paper.

This is a good time to take a look at your stamps and make note of their physical condition, any discolouring or fading, or signs of brittleness. Or even the possibility of foxing and mould.

When I say take note I mean exactly that. It may be that some of those factors have existed on the stamp for some time, or it may be that the stamp is at risk. Unless you have a remarkable memory, there is no way you can remember the condition of each stamp, so if a condition is noticed, make a note of it, so that when you check next year you can see if the condition of the stamp is worsening, or if it is stable.

Of course, save all these tasks for those days that are too hot or rainy for summer activities.

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