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Stamp Collecting and How To Start A Stamp Collection

Updated on August 21, 2014

Learn How To Start A Stamp Collection

Stamp collecting for many people is a favorite hobby. Something that they enjoy doing and sharing with their friends and stamp collectors alike.

For some collectors, stamp collecting is a serious business. It has been estimated that nearly 20 million Americans collect stamps! They can spend as much as over $600 annually on this activity. While others, especially those who are just starting out can spend as little as $3 to kick start their new hobby.

Where to get stamps

  1. Stamp collectors can get their stamps from stamp dealers.
  2. They can also get them from their local post office
  3. Going to stamp show is another way to get stamps. The great thing about this is that these events are specifically organized for stamp collectors.
  4. Stamps are abundant in hobby shops. This is where individuals can get a load of stamps for a very cheap price.
  5. There is always Ebay of course, for those who want one of a kind stamps. Ebay offer stamps from individuals from all over the world that you will not find at your local stamp shops.

There is no exact rules when it comes to collecting stamps. Most individuals start off by collecting stamps that they like, not focusing on a specific theme, country, or era.

Then afterwards, once they have built up a collection and have gone to a few stamp show, and have traded stamps with other stamp collectors; they start to gain more experience and knowledge about stamp. They also begin to learn the ins and outs of stamp collecting. This is the time they can decide on how to construct their stamp collection. Since literally there are thousands and thousands of stamps that can be gotten, that narrowing down one's choices becomes a necessity.

Handle with care

Some collectors prefer collecting stamps that have are on envelopes. These are less likely to get damaged since the additional paper makes the stamps more sturdy. The important thing when cutting them out is to not over-cut and damage the stamps.

Some prefer to take out the stamps off the paper by soaking them in water to make pealing it off a lot easier. The problem with this is that there's always the danger of the colors running off the stamp. Remember that stamps that are in good condition are more valuable than stamps that are in poor condition.

Stamp collecting is a great hobby that many people are devoted to. The best way to get started on this hobby is for individuals to visit their local hobby shop to get their first roll of stamps!

Stamp Collecting Guide

The History of Stamp Collecting

Stamp collecting, one of the most popular hobbies in the world, is an activity that involves the gathering and organizing of postage stamps and other related items such as covers, that is, packages or envelopes with stamps pasted on them.

The first stamp ever to be issued was of a portrait of a young Queen Victoria in 1840 Britain, called "One Penny Black". By the 1860s, the activity of collecting stamps was already beginning to become a popular pursuit, particularly for children.

Further on into the 1800's, it was named "timbromania", that is, "stamp madness". The activity gained a huge following in Britain and eventually all over Europe and its colonies, so much so that businesses with the sole purpose of providing services for stamp collectors began to come about. These companies often sold stamps as well as supplies related to stamp collecting, such as stamp albums, in which the collected postage stamps are neatly stored.

In the United States, it was the rise in value of the postage stamps issued in the 1920s that provided much publicity and heightened interest on stamp collecting. By the 1930s numerous stamp collectors began to collect postage stamp issues of that decade by the hundreds, in the hope that, similar to the stamps of the previous decade, these too would become of great value in the future. But perhaps because of the high availability of such stamps, the "rarity" factor was lost and to this day, stamps from the 30's are still available at very affordable rates.

The hobby of stamp collecting has also evolved into a much serious and organized activity regarding postage stamps, called philately, which is the study of postage stamps.

Rare postage stamps are perhaps one of the easiest to store and the most transferable investments, and are hence an ideal substitute to collecting artwork or precious jewelry.

With the advent of numerous technological advances such as email and SMS that are gradually making postal service rather obsolete, the creation and use of postage stamps have naturally also decreased dramatically, making it seem as if the hobby of stamp collecting might soon become obsolete as well. This may not be entirely true, however. To begin with, most stamp collectors are often interested in rare, old postage stamps, as opposed to new ones, so the decrease in the usage of postage stamps won't affect the hobby too much. Perhaps some things never change, and stamp collecting, it seems, is, for now at least, here to stay.

The Basic Types of Stamps

For many years, stamps had always been a significant part of man's history. In fact, it has been known as the single most effective motivating force for people to infuse history into the modern world of information technology. This goes to show that in spite of the various gadgets and mechanisms that man was able to invent, stamps will continuously thrive in the society as history persists to evolve.

Stamp, or "postage stamp" as it is commonly known, is proof of prepaid payments of "postal services." Placed at the right -hand corner of the envelope, stamps indicate that the person forwarding the letter or document has shelled out for its delivery.

Hence, stamps must contain the essential data about the country where the letter will come from. These things will facilitate the sorting process in the "electronic mail sorting" device.

Stamps had been used as an alternative to postage envelopes as early as 1830s. In 1837, the "first adhesive postage stamp" was created by Rowland Hill, an English schoolmaster. It was on May 6, 1840 that the first "British Penny Black" stamp was discharged.

From then on, stamps continued to proliferate in the different parts of the world and have always been the primary form of postage payment throughout the globe.

Along with the growing popularity of stamps was the development of stamp collecting. Many people had been mesmerized with the creativity, uniqueness, and classiness that stamps bring. And since they carry a significant monetary value considering they indicate prepaid postal services, stamps had been viewed by collectors as valuable items.

Stamp collecting continues to thrive in the history as man persists to create various types of stamps. These will exhibit a unique array of stamps, each has its own unique beauty and elegance.

Before they start collecting, stamp collectors try to identify the types of stamps. These will help them segregate and sort stamps according to their classification.

On its basic concept, there are three main classifications of stamps - special, commemorative, and definitive. Here is a brief description of each type:

1. Special

From the word itself, special stamps are used on special occasions only. In the United States, special stamps are those that are used when sending out Christmas cards or in any kind of special celebration.

Special stamps are physically larger in dimension just like the other type of stamps - commemorative. These kinds of stamps are sold at the regular rate. On the other hand, it can also be bought on sale if ever the stocks go low.

Letters, packages, or documents sent out with special stamps indicate they are first-rate posts in the United States.

2. Commemorative

To commemorate is to honor or remember the historical events that bear significant and notable values. For this reason, commemorative stamps were created. They were initially made to signify the commemoration of a particular time in history.

It was on 1983 when the first commemorative stamp was issued. These stamps were used to commemorate the unearthing of the "New World" by Christopher Columbus.

In most cases, commemorative stamps are not used to dominate the stamp industry. In fact, they were made in smaller measures. In the U.S., commemorative stamps were produced by the hundreds, usually 200 at the most. This goes to show that no reprints are being made available.

Physically, commemorative stamps are bigger than the other types of stamps. Just like the special stamps, commemorative stamps disburse the first-class rates.

3. Definitive

Definitive stamps are given out usually to pay everyday postage charges. Since they are very common, they are less attractive than the other types of stamps. In fact, there are instances wherein a single design in definitive stamps is utilized for many years.

Definitive stamps may not be as big as commemorative and special stamps but they are usually made in similar fundamental sizes.

However, in spite of their lack of creative designs, definitive stamps are far more appealing to philatelists than the other types of stamps. This is because definitive stamp's single design used through the years tends to lead to a lot of accidental varieties.

Other types of stamps are airmail, certified mail stamp, customized stamp, late fee stamp, express mail, etc.

What a Beginner Needs to Start Collecting Stamps

"How will I start?", "What materials will I needed?" and "Where can I buy them?" are just some of the common questions asked by people who want to engage themselves in a hobby. And purchasing a stamp collection kit is the perfect answer.

A stamp collection kit is complete with materials necessary to start the hobby. Kits come in different versions - deluxe series, for professional collectors, starter series, for beginners and junior series, for kids. Junior and starter series help kids and beginners to mount and design easily, while professional series allow experts to freely create their own style. However, all kits include the following:

1. Stamps

Junior kits contain 50-100 U.S. stamps. While more advanced series contain up to 2000 pieces.

Tips: Don't get overly ambitious at the start. Work on with an initial set of one to two thousand different stamps. Too much pile can be exhausting which will eventually lessen one's enthusiasm.

2. Stamp Hinges

A stamp hinge is a small piece of thin, but tough, paper applied with a special adhesive. Hinges come in different sizes and styles and are in almost universal use.

Tips: Both ends of the hinge should be moistened. Do not wet the entire hinge. Lesser moisture will prevent damaging the stamps and can make the album look neat.

3. Stamps

Albums fall under two categories-"printed" and "blank". Printed ones give spaces with outlines and descriptions of what stamp that is to be placed in each space. These are perfect for beginners and kids. However, many professional and advanced collectors prefer to use them throughout their entire collecting life.

Tips: Choose loose-leaf albums. It will allow you to insert blank pages wherever you wish to and easily remove sections for rearrangement. Duplicate, new and not-yet-mounted stamps can be kept safe in Stock books.

4. Magnifying Glass

One of the most important tools for a stamp collector is a good magnifying glass. Most of them carry one wherever they go.

Tips: A magnifying glass with a lens power of 3 or 4 is satisfactory.

5. Tongs

This is a tool used to pick up and hold a stamp when mounting or classifying.

Tips: Use tongs in place of fingers to avoid damaging or folding the stamps.

Other tools not included in some kits are: perforation gauge, which measure the holes in a stamp; millimeter rule, measures the size of the stamp and watermark sensor, used to detect the water mark on the stamp.

Stamp collection is an easy, inexpensive and enjoyable hobby. And now that kits are readily available, anyone can start mounting and make stamp collection a life-time hobby.

Collecting British Stamps - Looking At One Great Stamp Collection

Have You Thought About Starting A Stamp Collection?

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