Club Spotlight: Poway Stamp Club is keeping old traditions alive

Though unable to meet for the past year due to COVID-19, the Poway Stamp Club is looking forward to getting together again to share its members’ passion for stamps, said President Arthur Berg.

The club was formed in 1976 and has about 70 members, Berg said. “We’re the big dog in San Diego County for stamp collectors,” he added. Members hail from all over San Diego County, as well as places like El Centro, Las Vegas, Orange County and the desert communities. The club members have not been able to meet since March 2020 due to the pandemic, but previously met the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

Stamp collecting is about more than just stamps, Berg said. It is also about postal history. In addition to stamps, many collectors are also into covers, which are envelopes and postcards that have gone through the mail.

Berg said one thing he likes about stamp collecting is looking at different countries and seeing they do the same thing on their stamps as Americans. The includes celebrating local events, holidays and important people. “It’s fun to travel around the world from your desk at home,” he said.

Stamp collecting used to be an incredibly popular pastime, with large department stores having stamp departments, Berg said. There also used to be many stamp dealers, but now San Diego County only has one.

“One issue is trying to reach out to younger people,” he said of the pastime’s decline.

A typical club meeting includes a show-and-tell period for interesting stamps or covers, such as one from an unusual place or of historical interest, Berg said. The meetings also often have a presentation on a stamp collecting topic. Finally, members can socialize and trade or buy stamps with each other.

Berg said with the county returning to the red tier and vaccinations becoming more widespread, the club is looking into resuming meetings.

“This month, we sent out a questionnaire to members asking what they would like meetings to look like,” he said. The club will probably limit in-person attendance until it is safe to have its usual 25 to 30 attendees in a room together. Berg added he hopes to have meetings resume by June or July.

Want to join?

  • When in-person meetings resume, they will be at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday. November only meets the second Wednesday. There is no December meeting.
  • The club meets at the San Diego County Philatelic Library, 12675 Danielson Court, Suite 413 in Poway.
  • Dues are $10 a year, which cover a nametag and dinner at the club’s holiday party.
  • Email or visit to join.

Prior to the pandemic, the club met in the San Diego County Philatelic Library in the South Poway Business Park. It is one of only eight institutions in the United States dedicated to philately, or the collection and study of postage stamps. Many of the club members volunteer at the library, Berg said.

The library is open to the public, though hours are limited due to COVID-19. It contains many books on stamps and collecting in multiple languages, Berg said. It also has monographs, catalogs, collections and periodicals for researchers. Berg suggested calling the library at 858-748-5633 before visiting to ensure it is open. There are often volunteers on Tuesdays, he added.

Berg said he and the other volunteers encourage people to come in and talk to them about stamp collecting if they are interested. The library frequently gets donations of collections from people who have inherited one and want to know if it is worth something.

“Most small collections are not very rare,” he said. “Most people don’t realize that even stamps from the 1940s had a hundred million printed. They’re not rare at those quantities.” They can help people figure out what to do with collections, he added.

For those interested in beginning a collection, Berg recommended focusing on a subject or theme that interests them, such as flowers, horses or golf. “All sorts of things can be special,” he said. “You have it and people collect it.”

Stamp collecting is for everyone because it does not have to be expensive, Berg said. It is also easier in the digital age, as stamps can be purchased on eBay and other websites.

“We’re delighted to talk to people, young or old,” he said. Berg added the library often has free stamps for children who visit.

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