Matchcover Collecting

How to Get Started in Matchcover Collecting

by "Billboard Bill" Thomas

How to become an experienced collector in 10 easy lessons or one hard one...Don't EVER send anyone used or bobtailed covers unless you've arranged to do so in advance. Don't send national advertising ones either - they're like .32 stamps to a stamp collector. Know the postal rates and weigh your mail if in doubt. To make it easier, see how many 20s covers you can mail and stay under 1 oz, and then use that criteria. Do same for 30s. Hanging weight scales are more accurate than spring type.

Keep a listing of what covers your traders collect and try and send at least some in their categories. If you can't, tell 'em so and say you'll try harder next time. Compliment your trader on especially nice covers. Some traders exchange a few pleasantries with their covers, while others babble on at great length; do what you like, but don't belabor your trader with your aches and pains - theirs are worse than yours.

Pick a few favorite categories to start with; you can always add, change or delete, but don't pick only obscure one that no one has, or no one will be able to trade with you. There is NO rule about what categories you're limited to; you can pick left-handed banjo players if you like, but you may not get many. Go thru the club rosters, list those who collect your categories, and then start trading with them. Not all collectors are traders, so don't fret if you get a "No Thanks" or no reply at all. Our hobby is noted for the many members who don't answer their mail.

Whatever categories you pick, assemble your covers into albums in an orderly fashion so you can find them. Some can be alphabetized; others can't. Again, there is NO rule for how you sort and store your covers. The only rule is be orderly and consistent. Your covers can be categorized by subject matter, size, type, or a combination of several. Assemble a small album of real fancy or novel covers to show your friends neighbors. and include some samples of each type. Airlines, for example, are separated first by size, and then alphabetically by airline name. Yes, Airline 20s and 30s will not fit together on the same page, but they don't make: pages with multiple size slots. While you're at it, start an album called "Personal", of covers from places you and your spouse have been - it will be a dandy memory item for you and your kiddos 50 years from now.

If you can get to a local club meeting try to do so. It's a big help to actually see covers, displays, albums, etc., and to rub shoulders with experienced collectors. You can get your questions answered, find compatible traders, and make lots of new friends. Don't be bashful about being new - folks know that you are, and they allow for it. Volunteer for some club committee job; most clubs need lots of help in getting routine things done, and the tasks are burdensome. If you have some special expertise, like being a lawyer or CPA, it's nice to offer your help as long as you don't dive in over your head or violate professional ethics. You're smart enough not to let folks take advantage of you, so what more need I tell you? But, if you impart some free, helpful advice, folks will say you're a Good Guy.

If you're going on a business or pleasure trip, check to see what local clubs might be having a meeting while you're in town. Visitor guests are always welcome, even if they're not members, but you might wind up a member before you leave. Most clubs meet at a regular time and place; see the club bulletin or call ahead. Carry a caddy or handful of special or fancy matches to hand out to folks. At least bring a caddy of nice matches from your home town.

This article was originally published in the RMS Bulletin, May/June 1995, issue #454.


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