At the Unipex Stamp Show

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What I said then

Do you remember when I said I was trying hard not to become a stamp collector? Do you remember me telling you that Lawrence Block, with his fantastic Keller (the well adjusted, stamp collecting, cool as a cucumber, hit man) series was creating the urge to start a stamp collection, and that I was fighting it.

Yes, I know, I have relapsed a few times. I have bought some magazines.  I have taken the catalogue of Canadian stamps out of the library and renewed it the maximum number of times.  I have started conversations online with stamp dealers (enquiries, just enquiries).  I have even purchased a few commemorative stamps for Canada’s 150th birthday.  And Lastly, I purchased and brought back some stamps from Vietnam as souvenirs.

That, seems to pale in comparison to today.

Fate intervenes

Today, I succumbed to fate. I am not sure how I discovered the information, but I did. I guess I will blame it on random internet searches….or Google.  Anyway, I found out that there was a stamp show relatively close to where I live this weekend.  To top it off, admission was free.

So, I went to my first stamp show. Having been to train shows, and model shows, I know the ability to not spend your money is hard at these things.  There’s probably something to tempt you there.  They’ve got catalogues, magnifiers, books, cases, a wide variety of tweezers, and of course the stamps themselves.  I sort of guessed that I would buy the catalogue of Canadian stamps.  If I can’t have the stamps, I can at least see what they look like.

As for the people, while I did not see any children, I saw both men and women, young and old. I saw people checking off numbers in small notebooks, unwieldy pieces of paper, and even a few ipads.

Some dealers were organized and others were haphazard, but all were knowledgeable. In fact, I should probably add that everyone was very friendly.

Lessons learned

What’s my takeaway from this?

  • You’re bound to spend more money than you budget for.
  • There are lots of friendly people in the hobby.
  • There are some attractive women who collect stamps (I met one who was interested in Japanese stamps and wished I had asked her out for coffee).
  • The stamps themselves aren’t necessarily expensive.
  • There are way too many categories of stamps and stamps. You could get swamped by it all.  One dealer, told me that if I jump in, it would be better to pick one country or one theme and stick with it.  It’s good advice, but nobody else seemed to be taking it.
  • You’ve got to invest not only money, but also time in the hobby.

My overall experience was good. I saw many interesting things, but was able to hold off buying.

Near Misses

I was hoping to get the Canada Post Souvenir car for my birth year.  Sadly, many dealers mentioned having it, but deemed it unworthy to bring to the show.  I understood.

I did find the Calvin and Hobbes stamp set I wanted, but thought the price was a bit uncomfortable.

I did come across something that made me almost buckle. There was a collection of Japanese stamps in hingeless mounted albums.  It was fairly complete.  The price was ….certainly more money than I had, ….or that I could spend…..but I wanted it.  I really wanted it.

Thinking upon it now, hours later, I still want it.

I did pick up an inexpensive set of bicycle stamps. I don’t know whether this is the start of a collection, or just a passing fancy.  I had spent quite a bit of time talking to the dealer, and felt I should spend a little money at his booth.

I don’t suppose I could start a kickstarter campaign that would allow me to buy stamps…

 

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Hobby Rut

On Saturday, while walking the rainy streets of St. Catherines in search of a burrito, my friend asked me what I have been doing hobby-wise.  I was at a bit of a loss for an answer.  I seem to have taken a break from my hobbies.

I have spent a lot of time researching stamp collecting; both out of sheer interest and as a way of keeping myself from starting a new hobby.  Knowledge, and especially knowledge of both cost and how deep you can become involved in a hobby often seem to quench the fire the new hobbies burn at.  I can’t say I have quenched the fire yet, but I have come to realize that stamp collecting is a very large (deep?  consuming?)  hobby that perhaps only model trains can compare to.  Once you make that leap….

I could say that blogging is my hobby, but how many blogs would you want to read about blogging.

I am preparing for a trip, and the preparation for the trip is taking up a lot of my time (and if I am being honest, money).  I blame myself because I put off preparing for this trip because I was dealing with a medical issue. (see my other blog to find out more about my journey from Thailand to Vietnam via Cambodia by bicycle).

I visited a train store with a friend, and all it made me do was realize how backed up I am with my train hobby.  I’ve got so much to do that it all seems so daunting.

I would take up ballroom dancing, but I don’t have a partner.

It’s too cold to play tennis outdoors.

I played darts last weekend after a long hiatus.  The results were good, but it wasn’t exciting.

My friend gave some advice about building models.  Just see one through to completion and it will change your perspective on everything.  This is certainly sound advice.  It’s exactly the kind of advice I would have given him if he had told me that he was in a hobby rut.  It’s funny how we can give advice, but only to others.

For all the other model hobbyists about there, how do you get out of a hobby rut?

 

Two Kinds of Hobby Shops

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Years of shopping for hobby stuff has taught me a couple of things. One is that you can find useful hobby stuff in non-hobby stores.  This can be the dollar store, the hardware store or even the grocery store.  The other important thing, which was reconfirmed this weekend, is that there are two kinds of hobby shops.

There’s the one that’s brightly lit, with organized shelves and clear product areas. The store has the latest products, the least amount of dust and staff who use price guns to stalk the aisles and tell you what something costs.  They also have some cute toys for the youngest children and a good chunk of things for display.

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The other is like the one I went to. The lighting in insufficient and the windows, if there are any are covered over with displays, shelves or curtains that don’t get washed all that often.  This leads to lifting the products up to get a better look at them.

There are clear signs of organization, it’s just more general. Military models in that corner, cars in that corner, trains over there behind the wall, N on the left, HO on the right.”  You might find things in the wrong place, but that is part of the fun.  You might even find a bargain.  If you can’t find it, you ask and the person can take you right to it, and maybe tell you a story about how long they have had it for, where they got it, or how they sold twenty one snow January day.

In addition to all this, the store might have a whole bunch of stuff that you can’t find anywhere. The store I went to was no exception.  It was a treasure trove of stuff.  They had:

  • a whole pile of Tyco and AFX track for sale, including risers and lap counters.
  • a multi pack of N scale figures from Woodland Scenics (more than 16 sets bundled together for a bulk sale–the plastic on the outer pack had yellowed from years of indirect sunlight–but it was still for sale.
  • every scale of train from O right on down to Z.
  • Apollo, Gemini, space station and space shuttle rocket kits.
  • monster models and dinosaur kits.
  • educational models
  • cool prints of train artwork
  • a large number of slots car scales and kits (analog and digital)
  • a whole pile of tools for crafting your hobbies, including spray booths and choppers
  • RC car parts (though I didn’t see any RC cars)
  • New and vintage magazines (some real vintage ones)
  • used electronic parts for trains, slot cars, power boats and ….

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I could go on listing all the things I saw, but the truth is that I probably missed a whole lot more. I spent more than an hour there just wandering around trying to buy something.  The only problem is that I really just didn’t want to.  There was nothing I could justify spending money on because I have a whole room full of half complete or unopened things to do.  I am in a bit of funk and I don’t know how to get out of it.  I thought wandering the hobby shop would help, but it only made me more confused.  Starting a new hobby or a new project is fun…but seeing all the other incomplete projects makes me sad. (I did consider a race car set, and I was looking for a large scale 1964-67 Mustang Kit…and some train cars……..

I walked away with my money in my pocket….for now.

Rummaging Through The Bookstore

I had a chance to look around the bookstore yesterday and I have a few observations I want to share with all you hobby people out there.  And, whereas I might whine about them gearing up for Christmas on my other blog, this will be a more positive blog.

The Gift of Literacy

I have to admit, shopping at a bookstore is one of my favourite things.  I don’t do it as much as I used to because I generally take advantage of the wonderful library system we have in Ontario.  While I used to love having a whole library of books, I have moved so many times that I really don’t need that huge library any longer.

Oddly enough, I have met so many interesting people in the bookstore over the years.  This includes my university bookstore, Kinokuniya in Japan, and the soon to be closed World’s Largest Bookstore in Toronto.  Just yesterday, I met someone very interesting… but I digress.

I just wanted to say that books and things you can buy at the bookstore make fantastic gifts.

Just for Christmas

I noticed that there are a lot of interesting gift packs for Christmas.  I came across a catapult kit, a boomerang kit (I was sorely tempted….but then I would have to wait until spring…..but I am still tempted.  Besides it’s orange.  I might be able to find it in the snow.  Besides, it might come back to me……) learn guitar kit.  The list is endless.

Add to that, there are so many interesting book sets.  The complete Calvin and Hobbes is now on sale in paperback for those of you who couldn’t justify getting the hardcover version.  I saw so many interesting things that I want to go back today and spend more time looking around.  Maybe I will.  Maybe I will pick up the whole Ender’s Game series just so I can watch the movie and not look like a complete newb.

If you’re shopping, the bookstore is a good place.  Sadly, hobby books for trains, model cars and the like don’t seem to get much shelf space in these stores.  I guess the hobby shops have sewn up that market, but that really isn’t fair.  I would think that it would be easier for the hobby inclined to send anyone wanting to buy them a gift to the bookshop rather than the hobby shop.  For some, the hobby shop is a little intimidating.

Sorry for rambling, but I roamed around the bookstore, and now you’ve roamed around my thought process….. I am off to the bookstore to look around some more.