Stamp collecting is an immensely popular hobby that can be picked up and enjoyed by pretty much anyone. There are many reasons why someone might start a stamp collection, but we’ve picked a few of the bigger ones.
This is not to say that some stamps don’t cost much, but for the most part stamp collecting is a feasible and viable hobby. It’s very easy to get started, and you don’t need to put an addition on your house to store your stamps.
Stamps can commemorate events, or simply depict the era in which they were printed. Stamps offer a porthole view of the era in which they were printed, and they are not likely to be re-printed in the present day.
Stamp collecting is a great way to connect and stay connected with like-minded hobbyists around the world. It’s also fun for kids because the often intricate designs and artistry appeals to the eye, making stamps fun to collect and look at.
It’s up to you which stamps you want to start your collection with and what you want your collection to be based on, but there are a few ways to decide.
Theme or Interest
Perhaps you enjoy travelling or have a fondness for world landmarks. This could be the theme that inspires your stamp collection. The theme is the common element shared among your stamps. A stamp depicting the Eiffel Tower would fit your theme of landmarks, or a French or European theme.
Country or Postal Service
Maybe you have friends or family that live in the United Kingdom that can help you with a collection of stamps from the UK, or even more specifically, the UK’s Royal Mail. This makes your stamps easier to research and catalogue since they have the same or similar printing origins.
Event or Person
Similar to a creative theme, stamps can share a visual focus that’s centred on a specific event or person – a space exploration mission, or a historical figure are two examples. Stamps like these may come from all over the world for some international events!
There are some tools and techniques you should know about when it comes to starting your stamp collection.
Soaking stamps in cool water helps remove the adhesive (known as ‘gum’) and any bits of paper from the envelope still stuck to them. Be careful, though, because some stamps are more fragile than others and some will have colours that run more easily. The American Philatelic Society is a great resource for how to care for your stamps.
It’s best not to handle your prized stamps with your bare hands, as they could easily become smudged. Instead, use tweezers or tongs with smooth pincer ends to handle your stamps. A magnifying glass also helps you examine your stamps without holding them right in front of your eyes.
Storing and Displaying
Never use tape or glue to affix (or ‘mount’) your stamps. There are special materials – available at your nearest stamp dealer or hobby store – that should be used to place your stamps in albums. This way, you can catalogue your stamps without compromising their condition, and come back to look at them later without handling them more than necessary.
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