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Educational Benefits of Stamp Collecting

Updated on June 17, 2013

Stamp Collections

A few duplicate stamps
A few duplicate stamps | Source

Stamp Collecting

I admit, I am a stamp collector. I really have no idea why these little pieces of paper entice me into hours of sorting and searching. It all started when I was a child. My mother had an interesting collection of stamps from all over the world, and I used to sit and watch her work with her albums. I suspect she did not want me touching her stamps, so she helped me begin my own stamp collection. I have several happy memories of sitting side-by-side with my mother at the card table investigating our collections and learning what we could from the Scott Stamp books she had.

My beginnings

Mom often added to her stamp collection as she received letters from pen-pals, so I began searching for pen-pals as well. I looked forward to hearing from my pen pals as much as I enjoyed adding their stamps to my collection. This really isn’t a lost art in today’s world, but it is a little different in today’s world with the use of email instead of using the postal service. However, meeting people from all over the world is still an interesting experience. Anyway, my stamp collection grew with stamps from the Philippines as well as US Stamps. I continued collecting stamps with every piece of mail I received all the way through college.

After my mother died, I had inherited her precious stamp collections. She had several books of stamp collections from all over the world. I realized I really didn’t know much about these stamps and so I began reading about stamp collections. I have to admit, the chance of holding a stamp worth thousands of dollars was a motivating factor to learn more about stamp collecting. However, when I did find a stamp that was somewhat expensive, the thought of parting with it was just not an option. I couldn’t part with something that brought back so many happy memories of my mother; it just held so much more sentimental value.

The collection grew

I came upon a company called Mystic during this hunt on stamp collecting and became a member. Mystic Stamp Company is still around today. Mystic is a stamp club that you can join for free. Once you are enrolled in the club, you will receive a set of stamps that you can look through and purchase the stamps you need for your collection. You keep the stamps you want and mail back the stamps you do not need. They also have other tools for purchase if you want to advance your stamp collecting skills. In addition to stamps, they also deal with coins.

The knowledge grew

If you are interested in starting a stamp collection for your own hobby, there are several ways to learn about these enjoyable pieces of paper. In addition to the information you can discover from a stamp club such as Mystic, there is a national organization for stamp collectors. The American Philatelic Society (APS) based in Pennsylvania has a plethora of information. Membership into the organization is not required to peruse their online sources; but should you want to become a member, you can complete that application on their website. The beginner stamp collector can learn many things by visiting the APS Education site such as what to collect, where to get their stamps, the tools that are best for beginning collectors, as well as other useful information. APS also holds online courses, mentor services, and several references for philatelists.

Stamps in the Classroom

Obviously, the one link on this website that caught my eye was “Stamps in the Classroom.” Educators can receive training on how they can use stamps to offer a standards-based learning experience. The organization also has several types of slide shows they will rent out as well. In addition to the use of stamps in the classroom, the Boy Scout organization has a stamp collecting merit badge offered through this organization. There are also courses anyone can take online that will introduce you to the world of stamp collecting. I found it interesting that this website also has a program to link children aged 9-18 to pen pals all over the world. I guess that is still a great way to begin a collection!

Educator responses on "Stamps Teach"

 
YES
NO
Will you use the program again?
49
4
Was the website easy to use?
43
10
The Educator's response to Stamps Teach Survey 53 respondents Source: http://stamps.org/userfiles/file/education/lessons/StampsTeach-Report.pdf

Stamps teach

The APS has initiated a program titles Stamps Teach where educators receive lesson plans and fun activities involving stamps and supplies for their classroom. They currently have lessons involving math, sciences, social studies, and language arts. The program is still in the pilot stage and only includes 40 schools in 25 states. So far, their results have been positive. APS plans to market this program to a wider audience of educators, possibly run a competition, and increase and improve the current lessons.

The Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institute also hosts a National Postal Museum, which opened in 1993. The museum, which is located in the old Post Office building next to Union Station in Washington DC is open from 10-5:30 seven days a week. It does close to observe Christmas, though. There is no admission charge for the museum, and you can even take a virtual tour of the museum if you choose. Interestingly, the National Postal Museum also has an educational program for educators called “Owney the Dog!” the lessons in this curriculum focus on maps, occupations, time, place value, and measurement as well as character traits and writing.

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Summary

While stamp collecting remains a sentimental issue for me in remembering my mother, I also learned other valuable lessons from stamp collecting as well. The research for this article further revealed other lessons that can be gained from stamps. In today’s society of email and social media, stamps are still a necessary object. You can’t email a gift you’ve purchased for a relative or friend that lives too far enough away making it impossible to attend their graduation or wedding. Even if you have a third party ship the gift, postage is still involved. Collecting post stamps can provide hours of entertainment and lots of lessons for the creative collector.

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