Dear Post Mark Collectors Club,
Welcome to Alabama
By Danielle Komis Palmer
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that bring people joy.
Such is the case with the international Post Mark Collectors Club — a dwindling group of folks who collect postmarks from post offices across the country. Not to be confused with stamp collectors, club members set their sights on collecting postmarks from every post office in the country, especially those that closed long ago or have historical significance.
The club will gather in Alabama for the first time for its 46th annual convention at the Country Hearth Inn in Madison from Wednesday through Saturday. The convention will draw more than 100 collectors for four days of postmark discussions and trading.
“People tend to be very amazed,” said Kevin Tanzillo, convention publicity chairman. “We welcome the public to come and see what we’re about.”
While certain activities of the convention are only for members, curious members of the public may come by the hotel from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.to view exhibits, talk to members, participate in postmark swaps (for a fee), and attend a lecture on the history of the Huntsville postal service. A substation of the U.S. Postal Service will also be at the convention during limited hours, offering a special pictorial postmark for this year’s convention featuring a rocket.
Frank Moormann of Madison, chairman of this year’s convention, has been a member of the club for nearly 10 years. The birth of the Bugs Bunny stamp in the 1990s, accompanied by a matching pictorial postmark, got him interested in collecting.
“To me, it’s an inexpensive hobby,” he said.
Moormann and his three children, who also enjoy the hobby, had hoped to host the convention in their home state for years before they finally secured it. Each year, the convention travels to a different city.
In addition to uniting collectors at conventions, the Post Mark Collectors Club maintains the largest U.S. museum dedicated to postmarks. The Bellevue, Ohio, museum offers more than a million postal cancellations on covers and cards, many from post offices that might otherwise be forgotten. It also features thousands of post office photographs.
So what drives people to collect?
“I think a lot of us have a love of geography,” Tanzillo said. “We like to travel and see America and the postmarks are a kind of testament to that.”
And a lot of these enthusiasts go out of their way to attain a rare find.
“Not only is the hobby itself somewhat offbeat, but we have some interesting people as well,” Tanzillo wrote in an e-mail. “There are people who are trying to visit every post office in the country and take photos of them, a man who spent months visiting all the post offices along the Appalachian Trail, and people who collect all the way down to specific types of circles and cancellation lines.”
Tanzillo himself has traveled across the country to different post offices for their unique postmarks. Growing up, his family vacations were a little off the beaten path because of his hobby.
“You can ask my family what kind of boring vacations we had,” he said, laughing.
If you go
What: 46th annual Post Mark Collectors Club convention
Where: Country Hearth Inn, Madison , 8716 Madison Blvd.
When: July 25-28, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission is free, though participation in some activities requires a fee.
Call chairman Frank Moormann at 464-4614. For more information on the club, visit www.postmarks.org.
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