Explore thematics with fan favourites

Thematic collecting will be the topic of a seminar by noted polymath Derwin Mak at the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show this March.

A Toronto resident and professional accountant by day, Mak is also an accomplished philatelist, numismatist, heraldist, science-fiction writer and military historian. His presentation will focus on two U.S. Postal Service (USPS) issues – the 2014 Batman stamps and 2016 Wonder Woman stamps – both of which tie into Mak’s interest in comics.

“The presentation will discuss why the U.S. and other countries have been issuing superhero stamps and the changes in postal services and philately since the Internet age began,” said Mak, who’s a member and award-winning exhibitor with the North Toronto Stamp Club (NTSC), which hosts its annual convention each spring at the National Postage Stamp and Coin Show.

“Thematic collecting is a way to combine my various interests with philately, especially science fiction, comics and heraldry.”

Mak’s presentation will also highlight USPS first-day-of-issue ceremonies through the lens of the Batman stamps’ dedication at New York Comic Con – the east coast’s largest pop culture event – in 2014.

“Though the subject matter may seem youth-oriented, older philatelists will find it interesting, too, since it will show how stamp themes and marketing have changed between the 1980s to now,” he added.

Mak will also supplement his presentation, which is slated for March 24 at noon, with philatelic items such as stamps from the 2014 Batman issue.

This first-day cover features the first stamp of Tramscamster Bog, the ‘Sheep’ issue. Mak has issued several local stamps each year since establishing the Transcamster Bog Local Post in 2016.


At last year’s 75th Annual NTSC Exhibition, Mak entered three exhibits, including:

  • “The Assassination of John. F. Kennedy,” which earned a vermeil as well as the NTSC’s Best Novice Award;
  • Doctor Who: A History in Stamps,” which earned a large silver; and
  • “The Atlantic Charter,” which earned a silver.

For this year’s NTSC Exhibition, he will enter a thematic exhibit on the 2016 Wonder Woman stamps.


Mak is also the owner of two non-contiguous souvenir plots, each holding one square foot of peat bog, in Caithness, Scotland, from which he issues local stamps and first-day covers.

“There’s a tradition of British island owners issuing local stamps for their islands, so why not be the first to issue stamps for landlocked property? After naming my two square feet of land ‘Transcamster Bog’ (‘trans’ means you have to cross Camster to go from one plot to the other), I issued a stamp showing a sheep in front of one of the Grey Cairns of Camster, Neolithic stone tombs that are over 5,000 years old,” said Mak, who added the Transcamster Bog Local Post has issued several stamps each year since 2016.

In addition to the NTSC, Mak is also a member of The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada, the Philatelic Specialists Society of Canada and the American First Day Cover Society.

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