Tuesday, July 19, 2016

‘CANCELLATION: Masonic Stamp Club of New York’

After posting yesterday about the George Washington Masonic Stamp Club’s latest news, it occurred to me to have a look at the website of the other Masonic stamp club I know, and I found this sad announcement of the pending controlled demise of the Masonic Stamp Club of New York:

Click to enlarge.

It’s a sorry sign of the times that speaks to, yes, the shrinking of Masonic membership, as this announcement notes, but also to the indifference of society beyond the lodge doors toward philately. And frankly, the U.S. Postal Service does neither itself nor anyone else any favors by producing too many stamps today that lack artistry and that pander to short-term attention to fads.

I happen to be one of those few Freemasons who recognize the need, justifications, and advantages of Masonic groups voluntarily closing down. Look at one of those diagrams of the “Masonic family tree” and see where you’d start pruning. And where you might stop. The Sciots was founded in San Francisco to help Masons recover from the earthquake and fire that destroyed the city. Why it exists eleven decades later, and has spread to locales far beyond California, is beyond my abilities to explain. (I’m always picking on the Sciots—and offered a small joke at its expense yesterday in The Past Bastard comments—but there are others worthy of being taken off life support.)

But a stamp club is something that ought to appeal to all kinds of people. To collect stamps is to collect art. A collection may be as large or small as desired, just as a stamp club can be intimate and portable as its members please. Participation requires no formal education; collecting imparts an education. It’s not necessary to spend much money; depending on what is collected, there could be great value to have in the future. Philately is a pursuit one may enjoy solo; it also lends itself wonderfully to a club setting. To see this club—the Masonic Stamp Club headquartered in New York City—go dark is to witness a eulogy that laments much more than the decline of interest in a hobby. It is a cancellation of what was a cultural cornerstone in our society.

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