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A & E

Stamp collecting alive and well in Joliet, annual stamp show is Oct. 8

Club members say stamp collecting still is a ‘vibrant hobby’

JOLIET – Two members of the Philatelic Club of Will County recall the moment they, at age 8, became stamp collectors.

For club President Rod Juell, of Joliet, it began by purchasing an orange bag of H.E. Harris stamps, an assortment that cost 50 cents.

Gary Martin, also of Joliet, clearly recalled the souvenir stamp album from the Wisconsin Dells that his aunt and uncle purchased for him.

“It had a red Indian on the cover,” Martin said.

An avid stamp collector? New to the hobby? Never seen a stamp collection? Everyone is welcome to attend the Will County 2016 Stamp Show on Oct. 8.

In addition to stamp dealers and a merit badge clinic for Boy Scouts, the event will feature a number of stations that will show attendees how to identify stamps, mount stamps, care for stamps and detect watermarks.

“There will be plenty of members to explain to newcomers what the hobby is and how to get started,” Juell said.

He said some people collect only stamps or stamps from certain countries. Others also collect the stamp history, such as rates and destinations, he added.

Today, Juell, part-time interim pastor at Followers of Christ Lutheran Church in Plainfield, author of the “Encyclopedia of United States Stamps and Stamp Collecting” – now in its second edition – and monthly columnist for American Stamp Dealer & Collector, focuses on stamps of the 1920s.

Through the years, Martin has formed collections of stamps from the British West Indies and early French colonies, but he no longer has them. Martin is attracted to stamps with paintings, etchings and engravings.

“I think they’re much more beautiful,” he said.

Like many hobbies that wax and wane over time, stamp collecting is less popular these days than in decades past. At the age when Juell and Martin were starting their collections, today’s counterparts are engaging with electronics.

“As a teen growing up in New York I worked in a bakery after school, and each week spent part of my pay at the stamp counter in the stationery store located next door,” Juell said in an email.

But there’s a reason kids today aren’t as interested in stamps.

“The volume of first-class mail is way down from what it was a few years ago,” Juell said. “It’s not as easy for a kid to simply go into the post office and buy some new stamps as when Gary and I were small.”

That doesn’t mean stamp collecting is a dying hobby. For instance, on Oct. 29, Juell will participate in the grand opening of the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania – the largest stamp library in the world.

“If the post office stopped issuing stamps tomorrow, we still have 150-plus years that the world has been issuing stamps,” Juell said. “For anyone with any interest in history or culture or geography, it’s always going to be a vibrant hobby.”

In some ways, the technology age has made it easier to collect.

“It used to be if you wanted to buy new stamps, you had to go to a dealer,’ Juell said. “Now you can get some very elusive stamps right on the internet.”

Stamp collecting still has benefits for 21st century youth, who do still collect. Juell said the International World Stamp Show held this summer in New York attracted about 1,000 kids.

Martin said the history behind stamps is educational, and deciding how to arrange stamps helps kids to be creative.

“It teaches them how to categorize, to be organized,” Martin said, “which is very helpful your whole life, really.”

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: Will County 2016 Stamp Show

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 8

WHERE: Messiah Lutheran Church, 40 S. Houbolt Road, Joliet

ETC: Stamp exhibits, dealers, free appraisals, 5-cent mixtures, raffle, door prizes. Food and stamp supplies available. Free parking and admission. The 20-year-old Philatelic Club of Will County is a chapter of The American Philatelic Society.

CALL: For more information, call Rod Juell at 815-741-2734. Dealers should contact Jack Burner at philaburn@aol.com or 630-257-7430.

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: Philatelic Club of Will County (Will County Stamp Club)

WHEN: 7 p.m., second and fourth Thursdays of each month

WHERE: Messiah Lutheran Church, 40 S. Houbolt Road, Joliet

VISIT: willcountystampclub.wordpress.com. A monthly newsletter is available on the website. See also stamps.org.

CALL: For more information, call Rod Juell at 815-741-2734.

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KNOW MORE

A Boy Scout stamp collection merit badge clinic is available at the Will County 2016 Stamp Show. The cost is $2. About 30 Scouts have received this badge at past clinics. To register, contact Darlene Bull at 815-722-4380 or darlenebull@att.net.

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