Like many of my generation I was introduced to stamp collecting at quite a young age. Looking back I suppose that I cannot have been more than five or six years of age when my maternal grandfather presented me with my first stamp album. It had quite a colourful cover featuring several dozen stamps and the words, "Stamps of the World," were emblazoned across it just in case I forgot what I was to affix to its ninety six pages. In common with my childhood friends, we all seemed to start collecting stamps at about the same age, I joined the school stamp club and we spent hours swapping stamps and floating them off the corners of envelopes. It was I think seen by our parents as a pastime which had some educational merit and we were encouraged in it.
I suspect that if I now returned to my alma mater that stamp collecting would not feature as a hobby undertaken by many of the pupils. The electronic age and the birth and growth of the internet have totally changed how children spend their leisure hours. With the burgeoning of e mail and various other messaging services and social media in general the raw material of stamp collecting is in any event becoming less and less prevalent. The numbers of letters neatly folded into envelopes and with adhesive stamps affixed to the top right hand corner is declining year on year.
The world's postal authorities are still producing endless drifts of new stamps but in my view they have for the most part become gaudy sticky labels compared to the results provided by the engravure method of stamp production which arguably reached its apogee in the 1930's.
Maybe this is a pastime which has had its day and should now be allowed to pass into a footnote of social history.