I recently attended my first stamp show – SEAPEX 2016 – and I want to share my experiences as a postcard collector.
First off, the show is about 3 times larger than the postcard shows in Seattle. And let me clarify, when I say “show” it refers to show AND sale. The stamp vendors have slightly more elaborate booth setups than the postcard dealers, with tall standing wall systems of small drawers and shelves to hold all of the sorted stamps. Think library card catalog, but 6′ high.
Secondly, there are fewer boxes on the tables to just browse through – it’s more like the New York Central Library where you tell the librarian which book you want, and then wait for it to be pulled off the shelf and delivered to you while you wait. At postcard shows, the boxes of postcards are all arranged on 6′ long tables and you pull up a chair and start flipping through the cards.
You will find stamp enthusiasts come to stamp shows complete with lists of stamps they are looking for, a magnifying glass, and possibly an iPad or other device which contains a digital catalog to help identify the intricacies of the stamps. Whereas I have seen postcard collectors with lists – even in one case a 3-ring binder – but that is not commonplace. I have my collection on Flickr, so I can reference it from my phone to avoid duplicates, but it generally isn’t necessary.
Thirdly, no surprise, but the focus at a stamp show is on the postage stamp and/or postmark. What the stamp is attached to is secondary. Just a warning. There are postcards available at stamp shows. If the dealer has a sufficient amount, they will be sorted into boxes for you to peruse. There were even 2 postcard (as opposed to stamp) dealers at SEAPEX.
In addition to the various dealers selling stamps, etc. there was a silent auction, an appraiser booth, and many exhibits.
I ended up purchasing about 20 postcards (including my first Hold To Light!) and some letters from 1892. The dealers and customers were all very friendly at SEAPEX and I did not feel out of place at all, in fact I felt quite welcomed. I struck up many a conversation about postcard collecting. I also met 2 collectors (seperately) who invited me to the Pacific Northwest Postcard Collectors Club (PNPCC) meeting tomorrow!