I had a great time attending the Filatelic Fiesta Stamp Show in San Jose a couple of weeks ago. There were vendors and attendees, and I walked around and perused the heaps of stamps and stamp-related items on hand. I wasn’t sure if a stamp show would be of interest to someone who makes art with postage stamps and a glue stick, but after attending one, I did learn a few things from attending a postage stamp show.
Tell vendors what you are looking for
The vendors at stamp shows typically bring a lot things; obviously, that’s why they are there, to sell their inventory. As an artist who uses lots of stamps that have little to no value, when you see interesting things on display, start talking to vendors about what you are looking for. Even if they don’t have it with them, you might be able to arrange for something to be mailed to you or for you to go pick up they are local. It also may be a good idea to bring a small sample of the kind of art you make. It really helps them understand what you want, and helps establish you as a legitimate potential customer.
I started talking with one vendor and told him that I was a) looking for stamps of little or no value, and b) looking any vintage paper items that were unappealing or damaged that I used to cut up or use as background material in my art. He showed me two shoe boxes of “cards” that were postage and postmarks cut out of letters and postcards. These were interesting to me because I love postmarks, and because on the back side was often typed or handwritten text. There wasn’t a lot, but just enough to be interesting. I took both boxes for $8. I have no idea what I will do with these, but that’s not that point.
Every stamp has an assigned number
Every legitimate stamp from every country has a number assigned by the Scott Publishing Company. They create a new catalog every year, and the numbers help collectors to identify their stamps when they buy, sell, or trade stamps. How logical! I made this spread in my stamp gluebook with the 3 cent Washington, Scott #720. Am I going to start memorizing numbers? I hope not.
For more photos of my postage stamp gluebook, see the post I wrote about postage stamp art.
Bring your children, or not
Come with small children if you plan to be sitting by their side as they comb through the piles of free stamps set out through the generosity of the local stamp club. The stamp club also sometimes provides free mini stamp albums, which are a treat for the kids to fill up. Print one out at home if you are looking for an easy stamp album for smaller children. I love encouraging children to collect stamps, including my own, but if you want to walk around, it’s likely your little companion will grow bored pretty quickly. I’m speaking from experience on this.
Be inspired by the possibilities
Soak in the atmosphere, buy some stamps, and then go home and get creative.