For The Love of Stamps
Verona Public Library Holds Bi-Weekly Stamp Collector's Meetings
Now in its 80th year, the West Essex Philatelic Society (WEPS) allows stamp collectors to showcase their collections and promote knowledge of philately, the study of stamps and postal history, bi-weekly at the Verona Public Library.
The 35-member society has members that have been in the club for more than 50 years. While many members are Verona residents or residents of Essex County, others have maintained membership even though they no longer live in the area.
The society has specific show and tell nights, but the club encourages all members to showcase special items at anytime. There are also scheduled member auction nights and member exchange nights. On average, most stamps in the club's auctions are in the $1 to $3 range.
Collectors create circuit books of stamps for purchase, which are passed around to different stamps clubs. "There are many great deals found in the circuit books and it is a good way to fill the spaces in your stamp album," said Bob Parkin, president of WEPS.
WEPS, which is a member of the American Philatelic Society and the North New Jersey Federated Stamp Clubs, has an extensive philatelic library. Members are allowed to check books out between meetings. The club also owns a complete set of the 2011 Scott Catalogues, which are purchased every other year.
As a child, Parkin was an avid collector of bugs, rocks, baseball cards and comic books. Interested in geography and history at the age of 12, Parkin received his first stamp collecting kit from his uncle, who was also a stamp collector. "Stamp collecting teaches us history and geography," said Parkin. "I was just looking at a stamp from Nossi-Be. How many people would be able to tell you where Nossi-Be is located? Most stamp collectors can. It is an island off the coast of Madagascar that issued its own stamps in the late 1800s.
"I also enjoy the science of stamp collecting," said Parkin. "Two stamps that look exactly alike may have different watermarks. One watermark may be very common, but the other may be rare. Knowing and being able to tell the difference can mean the value of the two stamps could range from a few cents to thousands of dollars."
These varieties can greatly affect the value of a stamp. The Great Britain Scott 33, for instance, can range from $2 to $100,000, depending on the imprinted number.
Ronald Gollhardt, immediate past president of WEPS, has been a member of the club since 1965. At the age of 8, Gollhardt began collecting stamps with his brother. "My next door neighbor gave us some postage stamps, which were newer stamps she just bought at the post office," recalled Gollhardt. "She was keeping her son's collection up to date, because he had just gone off to college. From that day on, my brother and I would wait for the mailman, and grab every envelope that had a stamp on it, and started saving stamps."
Gollhardt started collecting German stamps in the 1960s, after spending three years working in Germany. About 15 to 20 years ago, Gollhardt said, "I was looking through those circuit books and I spotted a German stamp. It exists two ways: as a common stamp which is worth about 50 cents, and there is a rare version, which is worth about $800. I looked at it and noticed it was the rare version, and I bought it for 50 cents.
"Back then, production techniques weren't as sophisticated as they are now, and there were variations in the stages of production," said Gollhardt. "These varieties make some scarcer than others."
To learn more about the West Essex Philatelic Society, visit www.wepsonline.org.