Coronavirus and stamp collecting

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15 March 2020
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The global pandemic is having an effect on all aspects of our lives, so what safety measures should stamp collectors take and how can we keep in touch with fellow collectors? Our guide gives you some tips.

The information here is aimed at providing stamp collectors with useful information to help keep safe and, if time and circumstances allow, how they can still work on their collection during these difficult times.

For the most up to date information on the pandemic, please continue to refer to the World Health Organisation and, in the UK, guidance from the National Health Service

Does the virus spread on pieces of mail?

An update from Royal Mail (13 March) states:

Public Health England (PHE) has advised that people receiving parcels are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus. From experience with other coronaviruses, we know that these types of viruses don’t survive long on objects, such as letters or parcels. This complements the highly publicised guidance from PHE for people to wash their hands more often than usual using soap and hot water.

The statement (read it in full on the Royal Mail website) also explains that, during deliveries, the handheld devices used to take signatures will not be used.

When delivering parcels that don't fit through a letterbox, the postal worker will knock on the door and then step back and await the recipient to answer the door and safely take the item.

Those who cannot get to the door will be left a ‘Something for You’ card as usual. Those self isolating will then need to arrange for a friend or family member to collect the item on their behalf.

Have many collecting events been cancelled?

Yes, some philatelic meetings and exhibitions are being cancelled. At this time the London 2020 international exhibition is still going ahead - keep up to date with the latest at london2020.co.

Due to government restrictions, the NZ2020 stamp show is now only a national event, with the international aspect of the exhibition cancelled.

A statement said: 'This will cause substantial disruption and expense to travellers, but the matter is out of our hands. All we can do is apologise, and say we gave it our best shot… life will go on. For New Zealanders, the Organising Committee decided tonight (14 March) we will run a national exhibition instead.'

Be sure to check any event websites for the latest news, for any stamp exhibition you are planning on attending.

If I'm self isolated, what can do to keep in touch with collectors?

How do we keep in touch with our colleagues? There's always the good old telephone. And if you would like to chat with more than one person at once, why not try a software program such as Skype or Zoom, which allow you to communicate with audio or video via your wifi connection? The basic packages on these websites are free to use.

Postcrossing is a project that allows you to send postcards and receive postcards back from random people around the world. That's real postcards, not electronic! The concept has continued to grow in popularity and there have even been a range of stamps issued to celebrate the hobby.

Put simply, you just follow these steps…

  1. Request an address and a Postcard ID
  2. Mail a postcard to that address
  3. Receive a postcard from another postcrosser!
  4. Register the Postcard ID you have received
  5. Go to number 1 to receive more postcards!

It's a great way to meet people and receive stamps from around the world.
Find out more at the Postcrossing website and get sending!

How can I keep updated on the hobby?

Be sure to regularly come back to the allaboutstamps.co.uk website and we'll keep you updated with the latest news, auction results and prices, as well as providing stamp guides and collecting articles.

Latest issue: £4.99 | $4.99

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If you usually buy your copy of Stamp Collector magazine at the shops, you may need to look at alternatives. Our guide to getting the magazine direct to your home (either with a subscription or a digital download) gives you all the info, so take a look and keep reading!

Remember you can also follow the Stamp Collector social media pages…

How can I keep buying stamps?

Whilst there might not be as many opportunities to meet with traders face to face, the internet has provided a platform for collecting for years now, so make the most of it. Delcampe.net and eBay are your first ports of call.

At the time of writing (15 March 2020) public stamp auctions are still taking place. Cheshire Auctions, for example, recently explained how they are striving to make the auction a safe environment by taking measures including:

  • Providing hospital-grade face masks
  • More personal space
  • Professional Hand Sanitiser
  • Tissues available
  • Disposable cups
  • Professional cleaning

Of course you can also bid for items remotely, by telephone, internet or by an auction agent such as Trevor Chinery (trevortrilogy@aol.com).

Find out more about this sale at Cheshire Auctions website, and be sure to check with the auction house before attending an auction, you can find a list of auction houses and their contact details right here.

What effect has the pandemic had on the stamp market?

The pandemic has caused economic instability meaning currency exchange rates continue to fluctuate. Be sure to check the exchange rate before purchasing stamps from another country.

Writing on his regular email newsletter Australian dealer Glen Stephens stated:

'Bank Interest rates are near ZERO globally, so many folks have now bailed out of stocks, and grabbed a few STAMPS they need…'

In the longer term, the economic fall-out could mean more people choose stamps as a safer investment.


Finally, here's some advice from the American Philatelic Society (APS):

'Keep Working on Collecting: Even if you’re not able to travel to a stamp club meeting or stamp show, there are some great ways to buy and sell stamps.

'If you find yourself confined at home, this is an opportunity to work on that accumulation of stamps you've been meaning to put in your albums. Stay positive!'


Most importantly, remember the advice from the World Health Organisation:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Practice respiratory hygiene
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
  • Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider