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Interwiev about philately with Raino Heino

Today in the series „Talks about Philately” we are speaking with Dr. Raino Heino from Finland. Dr. Heino is worldwide known meteorologist and climatologist as well as philatelist, exhibitor and author of philatelic publications.

Attention, interview also available in Polish:
Rozmowa o filatelistyce z Raino Heino

Can you tell us what philately is for you? When and how did you become philatelist?
Like many other philatelists I have collected stamps from my early age, but more systematically since the late 1970s. First I gathered the stamps of my own country followed by the other Nordic countries and finally extending to the rest of Europe. This phase could mainly be called “stamp collecting" because my country albums consisted mainly of the principal types of all the stamps. Since joining to some philatelic clubs incl. the Finnish Society for Thematic Philately I might be called as a philatelist. This includes participations to philatelic exhibitions - national and international.

Raino Heino’s country collections

What is needed to become the European Champion in thematic philately?
Work, work, work and some money to buy more attractive and rare philatelic items. My thematic exhibit “Meteorology - from observations to forecasts" traces the development of weather-related activities from the worship of ancient gods to the present sophisticated weather observing and forecasting techniques as well as weather-related disasters. After exhibiting about 15 years I have already reached international Large Gold level and recently I was the best of the class in the European Championship on Thematic Philately (Essen 2015). By looking at the points given lately by the international jurors: Treatment: 34 points (of max 35p), Knowledge, Personal Study and Research: 29 points (30p), Condition and Rarity: 26-27p (30p) and Presentation: 4-5p (5p) the main weakness concerns the rarity. In spite of several original/unique artist drawings and a large number rare postal history material and various varieties it seems extremely difficult to make considerable improvements in the rarity of meteorology-related material. In addition, the thematic competition level is also rising all over, which automatically increases the tendency of lowering points.

Raino Heino’s exhibit at the International Philatelic Exhibition in Bangkok, 2013

In your opinion what could attract people to philately today?
Difficult question! Philately is a fantastic way to become acquainted with our planet: its history, people, culture and many other things. Somehow we should make it clear to other people and fight among numerous other hobbies. It is easy to say so, but seems quite hard to get any real results in advertising philatelic hobby. Especially we have lost the young people who have in the present time so many other temptations in their lives. In addition, the stamps and other philatelic material are not necessarily needed as much as earlier because the communications take mainly place electronically.

Paris stamp market (cf.

Your exhibition achievements are considerable. Are you still working on development of your medal exhibit or maybe on something completely new? If so, on what?
As a meteorologist it has been quite self-evident that philatelic material related to meteorology has mainly been in my interest and I am still “married” with my first exhibit on Meteorology. I am planning to remain its present concept, but minor changes will take place all the time depending on the availability of new (better) philatelic material. My several country collections are another passion of my philately hobby, but I am also involved with the philatelic bureaucracy of my country and also judging thematic exhibits in national and international exhibitions. In addition I am also been involved in Open philately as the juror as well as working with some themes to be exhibited some day!

Can you say something on this newest exhibit’s class - Open philately? How does it develop, how popular is it?
According to the F.I.P. (Federation Internationale de Philatelie) Open Philately seeks to broaden the range of exhibiting and to allow philatelists to include objects from other collecting fields in support of, and in order to develop, an understanding of the philatelic material shown. By allowing an extended range of material Open Philately has the further objective of bringing new collectors to the skill and enjoyment of exhibiting and demonstrating its attractiveness as a hobby. The philatelic material must be at least 50% of the exhibit. Non-philatelic material may include all types of items. However, the items must be relevant to the chosen subject and serve to illustrate it. Open philately is at the present time an experimental class of most philatelic exhibitions.

As a meteorologist and climatologist you have extensive knowledge in the field. Do you think that it gives you an edge over others in developing an exhibit?
Well, this has helped me much when working with the exhibit on Meteorology including also many aspects of climate and climate change. There are a few other meteorologist around the world working with the same theme, but until now nobody has reached higher points with their exhibits. On the other hand, I feel to have reached the top in regard of the points of the international exhibitions and I would really welcome newcomers in his field, too.

You are the author of the book “From weather gods to modern meteorology” issued few years ago. Are you satisfied with it?
The book in question is based on my thematic exhibit at the time of its publication (2008) and was made as the purpose of informing the meteorological community around the world to realize how much meteorology related material is existing in various countries of the World Meteorological Organization. The book in question is still on sale in the bookstore of the WMO (

Anatomia huraganu

I know that your philatelic collection is much wider, not only limited to meteorology. Can you tell something on it?
As already mentioned above I have country collections of all the European countries and from a few English speaking oversea countries, too. Most of them are quite complete from their beginnings until around the 1980/90s. They give me some relaxation and new information, although I have visited all of those ca. 60 countries. Anyhow, thematic philately as a whole is the “flag ship" of my philatelic interest as the collector and as the philately juror.

What do you think on the role of Internet and advanced information technology in philately?
Of course Internet and advanced information technology has assisted the philatelists around the world quite considerably. Necessary information is available more easily and the material acquisition is also much easier. In fact, I have never made my exhibits manually, because since my first exhibits in the late 1980s I have all the time used computers to make all the layouts of my exhibit pages.

Can you tell us a little bit about philately in Finland? Is it popular? Do you observe the growth of your hobby or rather regress?
While seeing the philatelic life in many countries I would classify my own country quite “average" in philatelic sense incl. its organization. Some thousands of “organized" philatelists know mostly each other and the material is available in many ways locally and nationally. The regress, however, has become clear in our philatelic life, too.

Can you tell us on your philatelic plans for coming months?
The end of the year is typically quite free of “normal" philatelic activities and gives possibilities to consider more deeply your own affairs related to philately. In my case it might mean thinking carefully of all the previous activities and possible changes in this regard. In this moment it seems that I will
- concentrate to my Weather exhibit still for a while aiming at our own international exhibition Finlandia 2017
- consider if there would be any other topics in the thematic or open philately to be built in exhibition level - national or international?
- think of keeping and updating all my country collections
- continue my work as the Commissioner-General of Finlandia 2017 exhibition
- write some promised articles in philatelic press, incl. this interview

When do you hear that in some countries there are attempts to move away from the use of postage stamps are not you worried that something valuable inevitably fades away?
I would like to use the phrase C’est la vie! We cannot (easily) stop the ongoing progress in regard to the postal deliveries and especially to the increase of automatization. Anyhow, we have available plenty of historical material in this regard and let’s continue collecting and studying them and let’s save our collections as a part of history in this regard.

Thank you for a talk.

Interviewed: Mirosław Miętus

Attention, interview also available in Polish:
Rozmowa o filatelistyce z Raino Heino
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