Wellburn Foundation offers annual Halloween treat
by Jesse Robitaille
Canadian Stamp News October 20, 2015

British Columbia's Gerald E. Wellburn Philatelic Foundation is once again offering its annual Halloween stamp racks to local trick-or-treaters on southern Vancouver Island.

Bill Bartlett, secretary and treasurer of the Wellburn Foundation, said the idea for the stamp packs, which the foundation has been producing since 2008, came from his years spent collecting and working as a postmaster for Canada Post.

"When I started collecting stamps in the early 1950s, I remember buying stamp mixes, which always looked good, but once you opened them there was a lot of duplication," said Bartlett. "So not long after I started working for Canada Post as postmaster on Fender Island, B.C., I thought it would be fun to make stamp packs - all different, mostly Canadian issues - for gifts to give out on a trip we made to China, and eventually selling about eight package varieties on B.C. ferries."

Then, in 2008, Bartlett took the idea to the Wellburn Foundation and suggested giving them away to encourage collecting. As well, the packs contain information about the hobby, the foundation and the local stamp website, vicstamps.com.

"The packs have been handed out year-round at the public libraries, stamp shows, school programs, events for seniors, in stores, at collectible and stamp shows, children's stamp workshops, local flea markets, etc.," he added.

Bartlett, who's also a member of Canada Post's Stamp Advisory Committee, said the packs contain stamps that were donated to the foundation.

"We include topicals, small worldwide country groupings on and off paper, even old stamp approval envelopes," he said, adding they especially like to include Canadian commemoratives.

This year, the goal is to produce 2,000 stamp packs and have every member of the southern Vancouver Island collecting community, as well as the public libraries, hand them out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Bartlett said he thought it would be a "fun challenge" to ask every local club member to hand out these packs "direct from a collector to a child."

"And it gets local collectors involved with the project," he said. "Getting the libraries involved is a reasonable follow- through. The packs will have a Halloween sticker on them as well, giving them an added flair."

And while the stamp packs were originally focused on youth collectors, Bartlett said it "really does not matter what age people are; anyone can take an interest in the hobby. Thirty years with Canada Post has taught me this as well."

Peter Newroth, president of the Wellburn Foundation, said stamp collecting is a safe, educational and relaxing hobby and added there has never been a better time to get involved.

"I think collecting will always appeal to folks with a mindset or compulsion to put order to things and find [or] participate in an individual project, either to keep to themselves or share," said Newroth, who added the Internet makes research "much easier, faster and rewarding."

"Today's world has lots of new ways to get info on things like stamps, and folks enjoy sharing their info and finds."

The Wellburn Foundation was established in 1992 to promote stamp collecting on Southern Vancouver Island. Wellburn, a renowned Vancouver collector, donated capital funds to establish the foundation, which co-ordinates shows, bourses, clubs and other activities focused on youth. Future goals include promotional activities, seniors' programs and other ways to encourage the hobby.