Philatelics, the study of postage stamps and history, may not illicit the flashy appeal that some hobbies do, but it’s still a mentally rewarding activity with an avid following in Oklahoma.
The state has a rich history when it comes to stamps. For starters, the Oklahoma Philatelic Society has roots going all the way back to 1933, when horses graced the roads of this state far more regularly than motorized vehicles. The Tulsa Stamp Club was created around 1928. Both clubs have seen generations of enthusiastic collectors roll through the doors over the years.
For many, collecting stamps starts at a young age, often due to familial interest.
Tulsa Stamp Club president Andy Warwick hails from a military family, and he was initially attracted to “topical” stamps, which are specifically designed with certain images, like airplanes, horses or cars. A future pilot, Warwick was most drawn to planes and military topicals. Due to his heritage, he also harbors an appreciation for German stamps.
Warwick got interested in philatelics initially because he liked the artwork as a child. As he grew up, he put his collecting on hold to pursue a career as a pilot and start his family, but he picked the hobby back up when life got a little less hectic. He later became involved in the clubs as a way to learn more about philatelics, as well as for the camaraderie.
“[Stamp collecting] is a great hobby even if you don’t have a lot of money,” he says. “You can get a lot of great stamps for $20 at a show.”
The Tulsa Stamp Club meets the first and third Thursday of the month at Asbury Methodist Church. The club offers swaps and auctions, and hosts speakers at many of the meetings. Topics can be about anything stamp related.
Joe Crosby, an avid collector and president of the Oklahoma Philatelic Society, honed in his interests on early Oklahoma stamps and post office histories. He also helps organize large events, including the annual stamp show held in Midwest City in June, where collectors from Oklahoma and Texas merge.
“It’s one of the few times we don’t fight over the Red River,” he says.
The pandemic caused expo cancellations for 2020 and 2021, but event planners are already working on next year’s event. With exhibitors and competitors from all over the world, people go to these events to buy and sell, as well as share stories surrounding their stamps.
A Prized Find
Joe Crosby, president of the Oklahoma Philatelic Society, shares his favorite stamp story:
Many years ago, he bought an envelope full of stamps from an unknown origin for just $35. Upon doing some research, he discovered that one of the pieces he had purchased was an incredibly rare letter – a correspondence from the Siege of Paris in 1870. There are only three known letters from this time, two of which are in museums. He has the only other piece in private collection. Talk about a prized find!