MY FIRST VISIT to www.philatelicdatabase.com was memorable, in the way one might remember a first encounter with a fine wine. And please don’t scoff until you have had a taste yourself, because this site really is a modern classic. With appeal for philatelists of all levels of experience and specialisms, the design and content are refined but relaxed in tone; at once authoritative and compelling.
The Philatelic Database home page carries teasers for a dozen or so fresh and fascinating stories from around the world, plus an inviting array of links to news feeds, thematic articles, discussion threads, a weekly opinion poll and an invitation to subscribe to a free weekly newsletter. The main sections of the site are well conceived and delivered, all well worth a visit: Stamp Profiles, Video, Maps, Dictionary, Crosswords, Directories, Facebook Forums and Post Offices.
Co-founders Richard Turton and William Cochrane worked on the concept for more than a year before the site launched in 2007: ‘We both worked for the journal Philately from Australia between 2005 and 2006,’ Turton recalls, ‘and very much wanted to take that publication online, but couldn’t get the idea authorised, so we made our own site. We wanted to create an online archive for articles that would otherwise be lost or only available to society members.’
Now one is based in Leeds and the other in Australia, and they ‘utilise Skype and email to best advantage.’ The quality of the writing is the best I have seen on a stamp website; all is clear, readable and modern, presenting stamp collecting as very much alive and part of the present. Turton’s considerable experience in Graphic Design is immediately evident.
‘We listen very closely to our readers,’ he says. ‘The site has changed a lot in response to their needs and concerns. We initially had an online Forum section that was integrated into the site itself, but we saw that Facebook was growing at an incredible rate. Our Facebook page is a relatively new undertaking for us, but we are pleased with the positive response. So far most members look to exchange stamps. We also use Twitter, primarily to publish our rss feed and bring in new readers from that social network. We listen to our readers very closely and the site has changed greatly from its inception due to their needs and concerns. For example, it went from a three-column site to two columns in response to reader’s opinions. And it is always great when we receive comments from readers who recognise relatives or personal connections in the articles. One that comes to mind was the grand-daughter or great grand-daughter of the distinguished Irish philatelist Lane Joynt. After she discovered our article about him, she wanted to pass on some of his philatelic collection and we were happy to point her towards David Beech at the British Library.’
PhilatelicDatabase.com is that kind of place. Bulletin readers will revel in it •
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