Stamp collecting blog: Thematics and multiple themes on stamps

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imports_CCGB_oneofchinas2010envir_80512.jpg One of China's 2010 Environment and Conservation stamp
In a bid to sell more stamps, post offices are beginning to include multiple themes on their stamps, but is that such a bad thing? Matt Hill finds out in his latest blog on collecting stamps by theme ...

There is no doubting that the busy folk at most philatelic bureaux have one eye on the thematics market when they design their stamps, and these days it seems a large proportion of modern stamps feature more than one subject.

So an ‘Environment and Conservation’ design (China, June 2010), for example, features subtle images of birds, butterflies and buildings; and a ‘Transport’ issue (Monaco, May 2008) depicts myriad vehicles, as well as a stamped envelope and a computer operative.

There are, of course, still many stamps that only cater for collectors of one theme, and squeezing in unrelated images onto a stamp celebrating the Olympics, for example, just wouldn’t work. But there is certainly a trend for featuring multiple subjects on single stamps when it is possible, prompted no doubt by the financial demands on the post offices.

Whatever collectors like to think, there is a commercial aspect to the business of modern stamps, so designers will inevitably be asked to come up with artwork that has a broad appeal when possible. It’s easy to conclude that such tactics are rather cynical, but is the multi-theme stamp really a bad thing? Experienced thematics dealer Paula Cant doesn’t think so.

Paula recently spoke to Stamp & Coin Mart about thematic collecting for an online stamp collecting video, and was enthusiastic about those stamps that showed more than one theme. Her optimistic outlook on the subject was refreshing, as she argued that it is the quality of the stamps that counts.

She has a point.

With the multitude of new stamps being issued around the world each month, the thematics collector has to be selective. So, as always, you can decide on which stamps to include in your collection and which to ignore.

Certain stamps showing multiple themes might not make the grade for your albums, but many others will do.

So the Chinese stamp of 2010 may well get into a ‘butterfly’ collection, even if the winged insect only makes up a tiny proportion of the design.

Multiple-themed stamps might be a sign of the times, but isn’t their wider appeal good for the hobby as well as the accountant’s balance sheet?

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