27 October 2022

Letter writing is a fading art but more people are sticking with stamps

| Chris Roe
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Man with stamps

Peter Simpfendorfer has been collecting stamps since 1963. Photo: Chris Roe.

Peter Simpfendorfer’s love of stamps began in 1963 when his grandmother bought him his first pack from Coles along with an Embassy album to put them in.

“I loved all the different designs and the attractiveness of them and what you could learn from them about history and events and flora and fauna and those sorts of things,” he said.

“It certainly broadened my general knowledge and because of that general knowledge I have, I also love quiz shows.”

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Peter is the secretary of Wagga’s Stamp and Coin Club and is gearing up for the next market this weekend.

He explained that while letter writing may be a dying art, stamp collecting is seeing a resurgence.

“COVID did us a favour because with people locked up at home, a lot of them rediscovered their stamp collections when they were tidying up around the house,” Peter said.

“Some of them are coming back to the hobby and we’ve had five new members join the club this year.”

Stamp catalogue

Stamp albums such as the classic Embassy were the starting point for many collectors. Photo: Australian Stamp Catalogue.

With fewer personal letters being exchanged and a boom in parcels, Peter said genuinely used issues were at a premium.

Interest in stamps and coins featuring Queen Elizabeth II has also boomed since her passing and Peter expects that we will have to wait until after the coronation of King Charles to see his likeness depicted.

“Of course as Prince of Wales, he’s been on stamps previously. The most famous one of course when he married Princess Di and there were stamps issued for that,” he recalled.

“And when we get the coins, he’ll be facing the other way to the Queen because they alternate them.”

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One coin that is in red-hot demand with collectors is a 50-cent piece minted ahead of the next lunar new year.

It depicts the Year of the Rabbit on one side and on the other, the late Queen Elizabeth with the date stamp 2023.

Australian coins

This collector coin features Queen Elizabeth with the date stamp 2023. Photo: Royal Australian Mint.

A favourite stamp in Peter’s collection depicts an iconic moment in Australian history.

“The one I always aspired to get was the five-shilling stamp for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932,” he said.

“They put out three stamps: there was a tuppenny red and a threepenny blue, which was a basic postage rate, and then they put out five shillings for parcels.

“Being the middle of the Depression, not many people could afford to pay that just for a stamp for their collection.”

old stamp

A 1932 postage stamp featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Photo: File.

Peter said Saturday’s market offered a great chance to sell or buy or just get a look at what the Wagga club was all about.

“We give free valuations or advice, and we draw from all over the Riverina catchment area,” he explained.

The Wagga Stamp and Coin Market is on Saturday (29 October) from 9 am to 4 pm at the ARCC building, 131 Tarcutta Street.

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