- The best way to get your
feet wet in this hobby is to join clubs. Membership is annual,
so if you eventually decide this isn't the right hobby or that
particular club isn't the right club, you simply don't renew
your membership. No problem.
- The advantages of club
membership, especially for newer collectors, are several. Club
membership gives you contact with other collectors. Those collectors
can be your eyes and ears for what you are looking for (because
you're never going to find everything you need by yourself).
They can be your trading sources; they can be your mentors. You
have access to who those collectors are through the club's bulletin
and membership roster.
- The club bulletins provide
you with what's going on in the hobby, what's going on in the
club's specific area, and both general and specific collecting
information. Many also offer regular auctions, drawings, and
raffles. If you're lucky enough to have a local club within comfortable
driving distance, you'll also have the luxury of local club meetings
you can attend, which, in turn, provide you with eye to eye contacts,
hands on experience, and opportunities to obtain covers.
- Plus, you don't have to
be in the club's immediate area. In fact, for almost all clubs,
the majority of members are spread over both the US and Canada.
Some are even located overseas. It's the club bulletin that ties
them all together.
- Clubs charge annual dues,
and, depending on the particular club, they range from $3-$20.
Several clubs charge less than their regular dues for e-bulletin
recipents rather than hard copy recipients. Hopefully, this recent
innovation will spread to the rest of the clubs.
- There are three types
of clubs in the hobby:
- RMS: Rathkamp Matchcover Society is the
national, or 'parent' hobby organization. It is the largest and
oldest matchcover club in the world, having started in 1941.
It has the most members, the biggest and most informative bulletin,
and sponsors an annual convention, aside from publicizing the
hobby, recognizing the achievements of collectors through various
awards, and so on. If you intend to be a serious collector, you
should certainly join RMS.
- Regional Clubs: These are area-specific clubs, sprinkled
across the country, from coast to coast, and we include the Trans
Canada club (Canada) in our 'family', as well. Although these
clubs, as all the hobby's clubs, gladly accept members from literally
anywhere in the world, their bulletins strongly tend to concentrate
on topics specific to their particular locations. Many of these
clubs offer auctions and other activities with their bulletins.
There is a complete listing of these clubs, with appropriate
details, on the CLUBS page. You can access membership applications
for many of these clubs by going to the Clubs page of the RMS web site.
- Specialty Clubs: These are non-regional clubs that
focus on a specific category of covers. There is Hallmark club,
a Jewelite club, a Jewel club, a Girlie club, and so forth. They
all maintain lists of their particular category's covers and
issue listing supplements as necessary. These clubs usually only
have one meeting a year, held at the annual RMS convention.
- Most collectors belong
to several clubs at the same time: RMS, to get the most specific
collecting information and keep tabs on the hobby as a whole;
and at least a couple of regional or specialty clubs, for local
participation and to see what's going on in other areas of the
country. Several clubs have reduced dues for members who receive
their bulletins via e-mail rather than hard copies through the
mail. Personally, I recommend Sierra-Diablo
Matchcover Club (Northern
California). It offers very informative bulletins and the best
bulletin auction in the hobby.
- And, by the way, if you
happen to be interested in foreign material (and are multi-lingual),
there is a list of foreign clubs around the world on the FOREIGN CLUBS page, although you should be aware
that almost all of these clubs focus on matchboxes and labels
rather than matchcovers.