Being a thematic collector, many have repeatly asked this particular question; How far do I go as a thematic collector?
Like all others, I went through the normal cycle; from world wide, to Birds, to specific birds and slowly to a more specialized area. I guess this is a normal cycle for all. When it comes to a thematic collector I guess we can have 2 major type of collector/philatelist:
1) one who is passionate about his/her thematic collection and gets everything that comes by; duplicates are never a problem
2) one who collects specific thematic material for his/her exhibit
IMHO, both collector/philatelist are as passionate and the only difference between them is their goal. One who love to have a complete and comprehensive collection of a specific theme while the second dreams of a GOLD medal. Hats off to both as a lot of passion and effort is put into their great work.
Then the another question pops up; which is more cost effective? As Ive mentioned numerous times, I really dont like to put a value on philatelic materials. For me they are small things in life that are priceless. However, if you insist on knowing the cost, IMHO both incur the same cost. As a exhibitor, he/she will first plan out his/her story board and moving forward, will only purchase relevant materials. Seems cheap enough but bear in mind, GOLD Medal means GOLD INVESTMENT!!! Specific materials like essays, errors, proofs, etc are priority whereas a thematic collector who collects everything tends to buy anything he/she could afford. Again seems cheaper, but when the bulk becomes bigger, you definitely will cross that very thin line again. Please take note that no matter how casual a collector/philatelist can be, there will be a time when the temptation of a more specialized collection becomes unbearable. HAHAHA, Im sure you will agree. I guess philately isn't cheap when you get really serious bout it.
As for the question; How far do I go as a thematic collector? I guess first you need to set a goal. As for the goal, please dont be influence by others. Give good thought to it and eventually you will know what u really want. If you asked me, there is a thin line between an exhibitor and a thematic collector, but an even thinner line between a thematic and a traditional philatelist. Ooops, dont shoot me please. I know its a taboo within the traditional community but IMHO, thematic philatelist/collectors tend to go abroad when they really committed.
After you know what are your goals, then its time to analyze whether your topic/theme is suitable. I have narrowed my collection from Birds to Birds of Prey and Pigeons as it is easier for me to focus on both. Moreover, its much cheaper when we talk about dollar and cents. I was rather comfortable with my decision as I can slowly build my collection and spend a little more on the more expensive issues. However, as time passes, the urge to be involved in exhibition becomes unbearable and this is when I realized being too specific on a theme for exhibit is never easy. Just imagine, how many postmarks where there for birds of prey or more importantly how many essays/proofs are there in the market? Unlike wider themes such as Birds or more abstract themes like Wind, Water, etc. materials are easier to hunt for but again not necessarily cheap. Please take note that with a specific theme, though the workload becomes bigger but the end results is most satisfying.
I guess in the end, its all about the decision we make. No one philatelist can dictate what is the limit. Please bear in mind there was never a limit in philately. Just use your imagination and dont never give up. No matter what the end result is, the most essential thing is that you had given your best. Im sure by then, all else doesnt really matter.
Again, all these are my humble thoughts and I would again be honoured to receive feedbacks from all my readers. Till the next post, take care and God bless.