“A stamp collection is an educational thing,” the scouts said in the famous skit. I’m not sure the reason was educational, but everyone collected stamps at the time. Stamp collecting was one of the few collections at the time that engaged both young people and adults with the same enthusiasm.
Each one had a stamp album with hard cardboard sheets, wide lines of tight cellophane, into which we would roll the stamps.
There were square and rectangular stamps and most of all were considered the triple stamps. There were ordinary stamps, rare, faded colors, and stunning colors. We would divide the stamps by years or countries or subjects. The most stunning stamps were from the most backward countries, and they produced large and amazing stamps in their colors.
Every collector had a good magnifying glass, and with tweezers he would handle stamps, God forbid, not touch them with his fingers.
How would we get stamps? First from the letters. We would cut the part of the letter from the letter envelope and throw it into a bowl with water. The water would eat the paste and the bale would loosen up and float in the bowl water. Then we would carefully remove it from the water and dry it. Those who did not collect stamps for themselves would cut the stamps from the envelopes and give them a gift to those who collected them. There were also exchanges, and with the penny in the pocket, they went to a philatelic store where an envelope with a few dozen stamps was usually not worth much, but the worth stamps required real money and not just a few pennies, and that was not.
The philatelic service of the Postal Authority was an institution of great importance in those days when everyone collected stamps. The service would distribute the new stamps and also issue “Sunday envelopes.” They were ordinary white envelopes, on which a new stamp was stamped with a stamp bearing the date of the first day the stamp began. Many gathered not only the stamps themselves, but also the envelopes. The philatelic service adopted its advertising campaigns in favor of philately
The parents would view their collection of stamps as “an inalienable asset,” from tradable merchandise that on a rainy day, if there was no choice, could be exchanged for cash.
My father collected stamps all his life, and all my life I lived on the famous story of how once there was no money to go on holiday in Nahariya, he took from his collection one rare stamp, a single stamp and sold it for a great deal of money. Waste … ”
“Yossi” Kombina “and his brother Moishe” chewing gum “marched energetically, accompanied by Nesher the postman, on his neighborhood tour along the stairwells and mailboxes in. When they saw me from a distance, Yossi suddenly stood up and screamed loudly:” You have a letter with stamps from Hungary. .. “. From the book – Next week – America !!!
Stamp collectors stick to their own
Even in the e-mail age, stamp collectors are eagerly pursuing the jagged bits of history and developing a vast and expensive industry, and they, too, know they are extinct species.
The entrance to the Philatelic Service building, which is not located on Jaffa’s Postal Street, looks like an entrance to a fortified compound. Behind a glass counter sits a stern guard, watching a face frozen in a way that breaks his peace. After an exchange, he takes his ID card and replaces it with the badge given to the guests. But here the tough reception does not end. “Wait for them to come for you. We do not go around alone in this building, “he says.
Three floors up, the atmosphere changes, and a pleasant and pleasant man welcomes me with a big smile in his spacious office. Yaron Ratzon boasts the prestigious title “Director of Philatelic Service”. A once-in-a-lifetime job that ends only when you retire. For five and a half years he was already sitting on the manager’s chair-a long way ahead of him. Only two people preceded him in the role, who were as old as the state. “Moishe Cohen was the first to be followed by Yinon Beilin, Yossi’s brother,” he says.
“What are you afraid of? What is the meaning of these security arrangements? “I ask. “We are a statutory body that operates by virtue of law and is subordinate to the Minister of Communications. Bull has a status like a banknote, a flag and an anthem. This is a national symbol of sovereignty that must be preserved, “he says.” Every stamp is the fruit of a government decision and is issued by the state. We are like a bank. There are stamps here at a very high value, as well as sketches of stamps that have not yet been exposed and may fall victim to counterfeiters. It’s worth a lot of money in the world and it’s an asset of the State of Israel that needs to be protected. ”
Behind his big desk is a frame with rows of stamps arranged in it. They do not look beautiful or particularly interesting to the observer, but the story behind them turns them into an extremely valuable collector’s item. “These are Israel’s first stamps. Their value is six figures in dollars, “says an active stamp collector and a member of the Israel Philatelic Association.
A close look reveals that the first stamps of Israel did not bear the name “Israel” but rather the words “Hebrew mail”. The reason for this is that the stamps were prepared before the establishment of the state, with the name of the state in the making yet to be determined. On Friday, May 14, 1948, Israel’s independence was declared. Less than 48 hours later, on Sunday morning, the state issued its first stamps – when enemy planes were circling in the air. It was a historic achievement that made Israel the only country in the world whose first bullying was issued parallel to its independence. This is no small matter. The state had to overcome the shortage of suitable paper, papers of different thickness and color, and outdated printing devices. For this purpose, she even helped the printing press of Haaretz.
On the other side of Yaron Ratzon’s table, behind a glass cover, is a collection of trophies and medals, which is more suited to the closet of an Olympic champion than to the bureau of the director of the Philatelic Service. “We are a world-class powerhouse,” boasts Ratzon, looking at the cups and firing a long list of prizes and titles that Israel has collected in recent years. “Even the Pope issued a stamp with us, for the first time ever the Vatican has published a stamp with another country,” he says. “The Olympics did not bring medals to Israel, but we do,” he says defiantly. “We bring honor to the whole world and put Israel on the map.”
It is hard to ignore the gap between the worn-out image of collecting the stamps and the sense of activity and renewal that comes from every corner of the Philatelic Service. “It’s a small medium, a tiny piece that sends messages from the state. A beautiful visual medium that even today people buy and choose carefully to decorate their letters, “he says. If you also have trouble remembering when you last went to the post office and asked for a stamp, you are not alone. According to the philatelic service, only 100 million of the 800 million mail items sent to Israel in the traditional year are stamped in the traditional way.
“Philatelic events around the world have been declining for many years,” admits Ratzon. “Life is hard in the entire world of print.” In recent years, however, he says, thanks to vigorous marketing activity, the Philatelic Service is able to penetrate the digital fabric of the younger generation. “On the one hand, we are in the age of the Internet where there is stiff competition for the children’s free time. On the other hand, the Internet is developing new ways of trading and communication between philatelists from around the world. ”
How do you turn to the young audience? Even in the philatelic service, they understood that the stamps themselves had trouble capturing the attention of the youth. In order to succeed in the task, you have to wrap them in related products. Examples are not missing: a collection of childhood stories that includes stamps with drawings from familiar children’s books such as “Hot Corn” and “Made in Five Balloons”; She wrote “Little Chefs for the Holidays” with recipes, greetings, poems, stories, chef’s hats and a suitable stamp sheet; And a bull with a flower when you rub it, it smells good.
However, it seems that the biggest attraction in the field is the series “My Stamp” – a personal stamp that can be produced by the Philatelic Service. “Today everyone can be Queen of England and appear on a postage stamp,” he says. “Stamps allow anyone to immortalize himself, a deceased relative or a family event.” At first glance it looks like a cheap gimmick – a little pathetic experience to be cherished at any price to the youth. But secondly, if that’s what it takes to revive a long-time, high-quality hobby, it might be worth the price. Thousands have already used the service and sent personal pictures commemorating stamps to the philatelic service. “This allows us to bypass the rule that only a dead person is commemorated on a stamp. Today, all the people of Israel and his wife can find themselves on the mail envelopes, “says Ratzon.
As expected, there were also those who tried to exploit the breach and provoke a provocation. “Someone sent a picture of Hitler. If we did not pay attention to it … you can only imagine what would happen if the State of Israel issued such a stamp, “says Ratzon. And there was also a strange lady – Larissa Trimbobler – who tried to print a stamp for her husband, Yigal Amir. This initiative was also stopped.
$ 10 Billion Industry The next stop in our trip to stamp collectors is an old, huge, threatening and depressing office building on Pinsker Street in Tel Aviv. On one floor, the Israel Philatelic Federation, an organization that includes 25 clubs and several associations of stamp collectors from around the country, was established. The Association’s website provides answers to questions that concern collectors. What is more expensive – stamped or new stamps? How do you remove rust from crops? What is the value of the envelopes from opening the first post office in Sodom?
Once every two months, the Association publishes “Shabl”, the Israeli philatelic magazine, named after the piece of paper that is on the margins of the postage stamp, an addition that separates the Israeli stamps from others. Once, during the days of the stamps, the daily papers also devoted a place to this hobby. The elders of the tribe still yearn for the weekly section of “Davar” – which included two full pages of loops every Friday. Haaretz also had a permanent stamp section, in which Dr. Haim Gal-On for decades reported on hot news in the field, including exhibitions and fairs, auctions, thefts and forgery, as well as instructions for new collectors. “Today there are no stamps in the national press,” says Noy. “They write about stamps only if there is an interesting story behind them. All the hobbies except the crossword puzzles no longer appear. ”
And if all that remains is to cuddle the past, here is an example of a column written by Haaretz’s commentator on October 1, 1976, entitled “Stamp albums to help the collector.” “Many requests from readers regarding the preservation and arrangement of stamps were received in this section,” Dr. Gal-On wrote. In particular, he noted a letter from Zerubavel Lev of Kibbutz Be’eri: “I have a collection of Israeli stamps from 1948, and I do not know how to arrange stamps or envelopes in a way that will allow them to be kept and to watch them whenever they want. For a long time I had not dealt with stamps for lack of time and now I wanted to arrange them again. I would like to know who to contact with the purchase of the album and the more you specify, the more thank you. ”
The association also organizes conferences and sends representatives to philatelic events around the world. The rules of the World Philatelic Association obligate any state organizing a conference to invite countries with which it has no diplomatic relations. Thus, in 2008 Israel invited representatives from Iran – but they did not respect it with their participation. Two months ago, Israeli representatives participated in a conference in Indonesia. “They received them very well. Our representative even sat next to the Iranian representative in the congress that took place there, “says Noy.
“Do not deny: the image of philatelists is not so good. An image of antiquity, “says Tibi Yaniv, the association’s director general. “Once you would get home a letter with a nice stamp. There are no such things today. In today’s highly commercial and competitive world, it is difficult to find budgets to advance the field. We are a poor body, “he complains.
However, he refuses to be carried away by the melancholy spirit that could easily blow through the dusty albums. “It seems that loops are still the biggest collection hobby in the world. The Internet proves that the volume is enormous: 600,000 items are offered daily for sale on eBay. Research from recent years shows that the global market is raising $ 10 billion a year. ” In his meager means, Yaniv tries to fight the wheels of time and promote activities and activities for youth, especially in the periphery, to expose them to the old hobby.
Every person needs a hobby. He is an old collector who specializes in stamps from the world of cinema. “True, today there is no longer the stimulation I had as a child, when I searched the mailbox with an envelope with a special stamp. But the search, the research, the pursuit – all these give you fun for the soul. It’s a hobby with a lot of energy, “he says. “Everyone needs a hobby. Some prefer outdoor activities, such as fishing or sports. Collecting stamps, on the other hand, is a domestic hobby that does not require much investment. You can start from two hours a week. ”
It is very difficult to know how many stamp collectors operate in Israel or around the world. Many of us have an old and forgotten album of the grandparents, but few people bother to leaf through it and replenish the inventory. According to the association’s estimates, there are about 200 million collectors in the world. “The collection testifies to the character of the collector. If he is a banker, the collection is boring and tidy and technical; If he is a poet or a writer – his collection is very creative, “says Noy.
The third side of the triangle, alongside the managers and collectors, is the merchants. One of the largest of them, who operates in Israel, is Yaakov Tzahor of Tel Aviv. Tzahor, a construction engineer by training, completed his studies at the Technion in the early 1970s. For 20 years he worked in the profession, “but all the time he scratched me to deal with stamps,” he says. In 1990 he decided to take a risk and opened a stamp sale company from which he continues to make a living. 2,000 people subscribe to the elegant catalog he spends twice a year.
He discovered the attraction to the stamps as a child. “In the 1950s and 1960s, everyone collected stamps. There was no computer, video, telephone, or applications. The stamps were our only contact with the world. When I saw a stamp from Jamaica it was an unbelievable joy. It was a whole world for us. Today, on the other hand, you can see Jamaica on the computer screen when and how you want. The world has changed completely. ”
It’s hard to stop his fluency. Years of practice have made him cynical and pragmatic. “there’s nothing to do. The young people rule today and think differently from us. The youth stopped altogether collecting stamps. They have other alternatives, they do not care. There’s a big drop in the stamp collection, so you print out Elvis Presley stamps, and if Shas asks – even Rabbi Elbaz’s, “he says. As a collector and a stamp merchant, he shows that commerce in Israel is limited. “Our big collectors have stopped collecting or are no longer with us anymore. They did not get a new generation, “he says. “Someone comes, buys a $ 200 bull, and goes home. But those who buy for $ 20,000 are over. ”
Abroad, the situation is different. Where there are people who “still believe in stamps,” he says. There are those who buy them as an alternative investment within the investment basket. Stamp exhibitions abroad also take place in a different atmosphere. “You see there, between the bald spots and the white hair, some young people too. But in Israel – nothing. Maybe if you were doing an exhibition of applications at the same time people would come. ” Our youth “no longer understands anything,” says Tzahor. “A 28-year-old man calls me and tells me about stamps from 1960. For him it’s an antique – for me it’s modern. ”
The meeting at his home in the heart of Tel Aviv provides a rare glimpse into the depths of the philatelic world, which includes far more than collecting postage stamps. For example, there are collectors who focus on “stamp errors” – missing color, missing punch, stamps without monetary value or mysterious circles that adorn some of the stamps. Others are interested in drafts that were submitted to the Philatelic Service but never printed. “From the printing press, it always slipped out and today it’s a desirable collector’s item,” Tzahor says. Other collectors focus on stamps issued in Israeli cities besieged during the War of Independence, such as Jerusalem, Safed and Rishon Lezion.
And some go so far as to collect envelopes from crashed planes. “Yes. There are collectors for material that survived in the crash, “he says, displaying such envelopes with a special stamp that attests to the jolt they underwent.
Is the entire industry facing a crash? Will he survive the jolt of the 21st century? Our brief journey to the world of stamps presents a complex picture, ranging from entertainment to children to economic commerce for those interested in understanding. The real collectors are probably already extinct species. Maybe they’ll ever get a stamp in their memory.
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