Stamp collectors gather for South Fayette convention
Regis Hoffman points to a glass-covered display of letters addressed to actors and actresses in Hollywood and other movie studios.
“People wrote to their favorite movie stars. This is history. Donna Reed, Richard Chamberlain. Brooke Shields. Mary Pickford. Dorothy Lamour. These are pieces of history. There’s stories in here.”
The envelopes and postcards collected over the years by Hoffman, 55, was one of 37 exhibits at the Philatelic Society of Pittsburgh’s annual stamp show at the South Fayette Volunteer Fire Hall on Nov. 1 and 2.
One postcard was written to The Andrews Sisters, a popular singing group, by a Japanese-American interned at the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah during World War II.
He wrote: “I admire you on the screen. I like your singing very much.”
Hoffman, of Bethel Park, reads a postscript written beneath the address: ‘I’m 100 percent American.’
“He’s interned,” Hoffman said. “But he’s saying I’m an American but I’m in this camp. That’s his message.
Hoffman, a past president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Philatelic Society, has been collecting stamps since he was 10.
He also served as this year’s exhibit chairman for the show — “Pittpex ‘14” — which also featured a flea market and dealers from Ohio, New York, Maryland and Michigan.
“It’s a dedicated team of volunteers, people that are passionate about stamp collecting, people who want to share their passion with other collectors. People who just like history and want a piece of history in their hands.”
The Philatelic Society of Pittsburgh, which has about 80 members, was founded in 1888 and is the second oldest of more than 1,500 chapters in the nation.
The show has been held in South Fayette for the past 11 years.
Bryan Gross, 51, president of the Pittsburgh chapter, specializes in collecting foreign stamps.
“You learn so much from them. I’m able to go to inner Mongolia through their stamps and understand their culture a little bit by just staying in Pittsburgh. Over the years, that’s what I’ve really enjoyed; that I can learn about these countries,” he said.
“I learn so much about history and culture. Before the Internet, that’s how you learn. Now, I’ve branched into more what they call ‘topicals,’ I collect dogs and popes on stamps. A lot of the poorer nations would print up stamps for people who are collectors, whether it be popes or butterflies or fish or dogs, and they sell it and that’s how they get revenue for their country.”
Ron Carr, 82, of Scott, showed off his exhibit of 33-cent stamp booklets from 1986, which were sold in vending machines.
Carr said he got interested in stamps collecting from his father and was active in the hobby when he was in high school.
“Stamp collecting is falling off. It’s hard to get young kids recruited to stamp collecting … it’s an old man’s hobby.
“After you retire, save your collection. It’s a good pastime.”
David Mayernik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.