A Rant About The Forthcoming Animail Stamps from Royal Mail
I have to assume these stamps are an attempt by Royal Mail to be seen trying to get kids interested in our hobby again. Sadly, whoever thinks this is the way to go has either no recent parental experience or lives in a place called Outoftouchville that Royal Mail don't deliver to.
The youngsters they should try to appeal to won't give these stamps a second of their busy day. Sure, some tiny tots will play with them if mum or dad doesn't mind forking out over six quid for a sheet of six colourful animal stickers. Presumably that's good value for kiddy stickers in Outoftouchville but, where I live, most parents will probably still opt for a pack of a hundred stickers for less than a pound in the newsagents. Only difference is they aren't postally valid but I'm sure that won't bother the little darlings as they splatter the fridge door to earn praise for their "creativity".
Stamp collecting and philately is now an adult hobby. Accept it. But that doesn't mean it has to stay that way if you think outside the box.
It isn't until you take on the responsibilities of life and learn the value of reality by paying a mortgage, buying a car, getting married, having kids, climbing the slippery career ladder or receiving one of those nasty letters from the bank that you can start to appreciate what the reality of life is.
For todays kids, until reality arrives, everything is virtual. Life is digitally streamed TV or facebook, Snapchat and YouTube on a smartphone. So it follows the only tangible things they really want are found on websites like this one for cheap smartphones! It also follows that the other tangible thing they are very interested in is hard cash to spend on that website (with enough left over to pump the profits at McDonalds of course).
If you accept my version of modern kids is a little more realistic than the jam butties and ginger beer folk, then you would hope some innovative brains are working behind the scenes to adapt their products to appeal to this generation of digital warriors.
I believe the traditional postage stamp badly needs a new lease of life by adding to its uses. For example, imagine a proposal to bulld a penny in to the price of postage stamps that is not cancelled out once a postmark is applied. They effectively become saving stamps that people can collect and exchange for digital coupons to spend on - yes you guessed it - mobile phones and Playstation games! Would kids be interested in "collecting" stamps for that reason?
In this case, while the initial motivation to collect used stamps may not be philatelic, it would mean people start to value the postage stamp again. If we in the hobby then do our jobs right, they will soon learn that some used stamps can be worth a bit more than just a penny and perhaps a lot more if they collect the complete envelopes. On another tangent, think what effect this would have on the kiloware market.
Many moons ago I posted an article suggesting how stamps could now have QR codes built in to the designs that take the smartphone user straight to a Royal Mail history website that teaches them all they need to know about the subject matter. Maybe kiddy stickers isn't the best example, but imagine that scenario for the recent Shackleton issue or the WW1 stamp series? Surely, if Royal Mail lend a hand with the homework, the stickers they offer start to acquire more value than the chinese made cheapies in the newsagent?
Now what if those QR codes threw up a lottery prize once in a while?
Remember those Post Offices people used to use? What about allowing those used postage stamp coupons to act as currency in Post Offices and/or other small businesses? It may seem small beer to the CEO of Royal Mail but, a few quid off the cost of a passport application or fishing license is a godsend to poorer families. Look at it as a subtle way of doing a little redistribution of wealth in society without George Osborne having to use his smoke and mirrors.
The price differential between franked mail and postage stamps is now so wide that even some stamp dealers opt to use machines to cut costs. Very sad. So, from where I'm standing, some alternative thinking like this is fast becoming vital to the survival of postage stamps. Unless they can attain some added value soon, I fear it won't be long before postage stamps are consigned to history altogether.
Oh yes, and as for teaching kids to place stamps on letters so they can crease them over the edges of the envelope... Oh don't get me started on that one.
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