Group puts its stamp on youth Philatelists: The Baltimore Philatelic Society makes a pitch -- including free stamps -- to draw more young people into collecting at its 61st annual show.

September 01, 1997|By Walter F. Roche Jr. | Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF

There were old stamps and new ones. And there were longtime stamp collectors and, perhaps, new generations of philatelists.

In one room, children -- from toddlers to teens -- pored over thousands of free stamps piled high on long tables.

In adjoining rooms their elders wandered from hall to hall looking at the pricier wares of collectors at the 61st annual show of the Baltimore Philatelic Society, which ended yesterday at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.

The displays included a $10,000 stamp in which a train was printed upside down and a $37,500 stamp with an upside-down boat. Both "misprints" were issued early this century, said William S. Langs, a dealer from New Milford, N.J.

A more recent error, a Richard M. Nixon stamp missing the late president's name, was being offered for $1,500.

For those with a tighter budget, new stamps were on display from the U.S. Postal Service. A collection of classic "American Dolls" was available at its face value of $4.80.

In all, said Norman Katz, organizer of the event, about $10 million worth of stamps were displayed at the three-day event, which drew about 8,500 people.

In the room for children, 4-year-old Daniel P. Solomon Jr. of Fallston revealed that his favorite part of stamp collecting was soaking the stamps in water to get them off of the envelopes.

How long does it take?

"After my nap is done," he said.

His father Daniel P. Solomon, also the son of a stamp collector, said he introduced his son to collecting at the age of 2 when he bought him his first stamp book.

"He must have a very good memory, because he remembers what stamps we have much better than I do. He didn't get that from my side of the family," said the father.

Katz said providing events and free stamps for the young was not a sideline but a focus of his organization. Unless more young people are drawn to stamp collecting, he said, the practice could soon become extinct.

David Wetterau, who was filling in as host in the children's room for fellow Annapolis collector Candy Emrick, said that stamp collecting can become a springboard for education. When you collect stamps, he said, you learn about countries, people and monetary units.

But, he said, stamp collecting "is not something people get into these days."

The organizers of the event say they hope the event will help reverse that.

Last year, said Wetterau, some of the children who came first thing in the morning on the last day were still there when the show closed at 4 p.m.

Katz's twin grandsons, Michael and Steven Finkelsen of Randallstown, were among those sorting through the stamp piles yesterday.

"It bypassed me," said their mother, Marilyn, "but they like it."

And, she said, when the twins are absorbed in their stamps, "they don't even fight with each other."

Pub Date: 9/01/97

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