My Damascence conversion came in a blinding light of recognition a couple of hours ago when I got round to mounting my Royal Mail-issued miniature sheet on the subject of Animails - a preposterous and expensive piece of self-adhesive paper - in my latest album of "British stamps". It really is just rubbish. And there has been so much of the stuff recently. It's a madness. We've also just had 6 stamps and a 4 stamp miniature sheet and a 10 stamp sheetlet to commemorate the 50th anniversary of an old popular music group becoming professional (a moment to be forever recalled in the annals of history - no, I don't think so) - it wasn't as if it it was The Beatles or The Rolling Stones or David Bowie - and we will soon be faced with a set of stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first publication of some true British, er ..... classic modern literature - the Mr. Men books.
Royal Mail has issued " limited edition" (naturally) Collectors sheets or Commemorative sheets or whatever they're called, sold at well over double face value, to mark the 80th anniversary of more literary classics such as Oor Willie and The Broons and a record number of Prestige Booklets have found their way on to the market - Beatrix Potter, the First World War 2016, The Queen's 90th Birthday and the 500th anniversary of Royal Mail - all worthy subjects but 4 of them in the short period of 6 months - they're "'avin' a larf" aren't they?
Let's not even mention Post And Go labels and Counter booklets and miniature sheets.
Let's be honest. These are NOT postage stamps. Yes, of course they are valid for postage but they rarely turn up if at all on everyday mail sent by ordinary members of the public who have no philatelic interest nor knowledge. These are purely collectable products intended to give pleasure to those who buy them usually because they depict subjects which interest them and to increase financial income to Royal Mail. These two outcomes are wholly satisfactory but just because these outcomes occur, it does not mean that a postage stamp collector should feel pressurised by his or her inbuilt need for COMPLETENESS of their collection to go out and buy these items - they should see them for what they are - philatelic, and not necessarily postal, collectibles which are unlikely to be used to any substantial extent to indicate the pre-payment of postage, which, I think, is how a postage stamp is defined.
Good, I am a collector of postage stamps and not philatelic collectibles. Therefore I do not need to spend vast amounts of money on all the products pouring on to the market at this time. I acknowledge that postage stamps serve other roles - they commemorate great events or anniversaries or important people in a country's history or culture, past and present, and can be used to project a national image to the rest of the world, boast of its triumphs and moarn its disasters and losses. I am happy to collect the items which fulfill those roles but I am not happy to spend money on the trivial and the ephemerally popular or populist. I am happy to collect stamps which project the nation's image - its industry, its history, its art and science, its wildlife and perhaps, most importantly, its people.
So, Royal Mail and its really quite horrible "Animail" sheet has finally pushed me into a new road for my stamp collection. I gave up collecting what were then still known as Smilers sheets in 2009; I have reduced greatly the number of Post And Go labels that are admitted to my collection and now its time to go further. For a year or two, I have given up buying most stamps from prolific entities such as Australia Post, Jersey Post, Isle Of Man Post Office, Guernsey Post and Royal Gibraltar Post Office - I only have their definitives and new stamps which commemorate truly significant national events and anniversaries - and of course I do not buy stuff from Stamperija and most of the IGPC and Philatelic Collector Inc. products - and now I add Royal Mail to my list.
I like the Prestige booklets but there are just too many of them now so they're out; only special stamps commemorating significant national events and anniversaries will find their way into my collection, definitives will still be obtained, only Post And Go stamps obtained from kiosks freely accessible to members of the general public (NCR in post offices and IAR in enquiry offices) will be collected. It will be hard to stick to my new plan at first but I know that it will soon feel like being released from a completist prison. And just think what I can do with all the money that's saved.
So, Mr. Men stamps - you'll have no home in my collection and I suspect that much of the stuff
planned for 2017 is likely to be equally homeless.