20 August 2018
We can think of several reasons for taking a cross-Channel ferry, train or plane trip to Amsterdam: a pickled herring sandwich, an Amstel brewery tour, a close encounter with a Vermeer perhaps. But if you’d sooner spend your time and money on stamps you simply must visit what may be Europe’s last outpost for outdoors philately, writes Ed Fletcher.
Every Wednesday and Saturday the Postzegalmarkt attracts visitors from across Europe, the majority of them stamp collectors seeking bargains for which this traditional open-air philatelic emporium has been renowned for decades.
Once it had strong rivals, in Paris, Madrid, Warsaw and elsewhere, but most have fallen away and left Postzegalmarkt holding most of the old albums, stockbooks and dealers who congregate at this location twice a week to come face-to-face with customers they have probably encountered numerous times on websites.
Like them, they crave close encounters of the hand-shaking kind. Rub shoulders with fellow enthusiasts as you browse the stalls and get up close and personal with stamps you may previously have seen only as online images.
If you drag yourself away to enjoy a coffee and sandwich in one of the quaint alleys around the market you’ll soon notice that a number of un-refurbished shops have resisted the temptation to convert to eating places and still function as traditional stamp retailers.
Your Amsterdam visit may turn out to be a trip down memory lane and an evocation of childhood delights.
The address reads like a demented Scrabble board:
Postzegelmarkt, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal Straat, Amsterdam; but you will have no trouble reaching it on any Wednesday or Saturday if you take a tram (Nos 1,2,5,13,17 or 20) and ask to be set down at the stop called Het Spui.