Inet since 17.05.1999
Last edit:  23.12.2007

ISSN 1212-8945
Bret Janík

Japhila ww philatelic e-zine • Japhila filatelistický on line magazín


Česká verze   English version  


Svaz českých filatelistů


Mr. Henry HAHN, Fairfax, USA

...write for "Japhila" e-zine in May, 1999 as 1st Article

There is some troubling indication that the hobby of philately is in a decline - at least in the United States. Where only a few years ago philatelic shows were over-subscribed, many of the best shows in the US now engage in frantic moves to fill up the available frames.  Philatelic retail stores have long been replaced by part time, mail order dealers or the web, and our children, despite enticement by philatelic organizations and the US Postal Service, mostly prefer television and video games to stamps. The long term prospects for the serious adult collector remain good, but those collectors are aging and  their replacement from the ranks of the young is becoming questionable. 

But one could not detect a decline in the hobby by visiting FIP shows - both in Europe and in the United States. Most particularly in Europe, we admire the patience and tenacity of show visitors who stand in long lines - often with their children - and endure the physical discomforts evident at some of the shows. Children are active participants, as are the more passive collectors who constitute the mainstream of the hobby. The degree of sophistication among the most active collectors and philatelic exhibitors is rapidly increasing as more specialized books are published and through such media as the web page, another one of which is being launched at present. While reliance of most collectors upon the web page is on a healthy rise, there are many niches to be filled, such as will be filled by the JAPHILA Philatelic Server, which will encompass philately, numismatics, telephone cards and other collectibles on the broadest possible scale. 

What does all this mean to Czechoslovak Philately? As an American collector, but with roots that remain firmly implanted in Moravian soil, I can report several happy observations. First of all, a highly respected former FIP President, Mr. Ladislav Dvoracek once told me: "Don't expect a gold award at a FIP show. We Czechs don't have a classical period, and 20th century stamps will never reach the level of classical exhibits". However, in recent years, gold and even large gold medals have been awarded for Czechoslovak exhibits in such places as Milan, Tel-Aviv, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Stockholm and others. Membership in the U.S. Society for Czechoslovak Philately has held steady, and very good recognition of Czechoslovak exhibits at US National shows has taken place in recent years. Interest in collecting Czechoslovakia is on a rise as evidenced by dealer stocks, attendance at our lectures, and participation in shows by Czechoslovakia collectors. Submission for expertization is on a rise, and our library is being put to more frequent use. Our stamp circuit (available only in the US) is doing a healthy business. This, at a time when the Austria Collectors Society has gone under, and many other national societies are struggling. 
To what do we attribute this success?  Most importantly, in my opinion, to the vast number of specialties that constitute collecting Czechoslovakia. What other countries have such byways as the Protectorate Bohemia & Moravia, Slovakia, the Carpatho-Ukraine, Siberian, French and Italian Legion mail, mail from future CSR territories within Austria and Hungary, British and French WWII Field Posts, Theresienstadt  and other Concentration Camp mail, German WWI Field Post and Dienst Post, etc., etc. As one American collector told me - collecting Czechoslovakia is one of the richest experiences in philately - and all for little money. But that was long ago, considering the present market prices of Czechoslovak stamps and covers, particularly at Czech auctions.  In the second place in importance is a strong and well organized Society, which for the past 60 years has continued publishing the CZECHOSLOVAK SPECIALIST, operates a stamp circuit, has an excellent library, and an expertizing service. It also holds annual shows and conventions, this year honoring the 100th Anniversary of the Prague Pneumatic mail with an appropriate cachet and lectures by prominent collectors of the specialty from the Czech Republic and the U.S. 

We sincerely hope that the „JAPHILA - Philatelic Netmagazine" will meet the needs of  collectors on all continents and enhance interest in our wonderful hobby. Place htto:// on your listing of  FAVORITES and refer to it often. Participate with articles, comments, and auctions. But most of all, enjoy reading!


Henry Hahn and Bretislav Janik in Praga 1988


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