The Art of Stamp Collecting
Stamp collecting takes place all over the world. Indeed, there are likely few, if any, hobbies that are as widespread as stamp collecting. Stamp collectors come from all backgrounds, which is again reflected in the diversity of stamp collections, as each individual will find a particular type of stamp that interests them. Stamp collecting can also be a relatively inexpensive hobby, making it accessible for individuals on any budget.
The first stamp and the start of stamp collecting
To find the first postage stamp you have to go back to England in the mid-nineteenth century. The famous "Penny Black" stamp, featuring an image of Queen Victoria, was released in 1840. As soon as the 1860s, children were drawn to growing range of postage stamps in production, and stamp collecting was born. As those children grew into adults, they continued stamp collecting, thereby making it common hobby for adults. By the inter-war years, stamp collecting had taken a firm position as one of the most popular hobbies in the United States. The hobby has continued to be popular for both children and adults alike well into the 21st century.
Types of stamp collections
One of the great things about stamp collecting is that there is such a wide array of postage stamps and similar items available, which means that there can be countless different types of stamp collections. Whatever your personal interest, be it animals, Americana, cartoon characters, sports, or even Elvis, you will find stamps from all over the world just waiting to be collected. Stamp collecting is not just limited to postage stamps, either. Oddly enough, Federal Duck Stamps are one of the most popular and well-known collectible stamp series. Other stamp types that are popular include souvenir sheets, postal stationary.
Beginning a Stamp Collection
To start collecting stamps on a casual basis, start looking at your mail as it comes in and keep the ones you find interesting or beautiful. After a while, you should get an idea about what kind of collection you want. Once you have a basic idea of where you want your collection to go at first (and keeping in mind that it is always easy to expand or change the focus of your collection) it is time to invest in some proper tools. Of course, if you are on a tight budget, stamp collecting can be done on the cheap. But for best results you should get some clear plastic sleeves and a notebook to store your stamps in a manner that protects their condition and keeps them safe from the elements. You should also think about investing in other specialized tools, including specially designed stamp tongs. These tongs prevent skin oils from coming into contact with the stamp, which will further promote sustainability in the stamp.
How do you get stamps?
Your first and best resource for stamps will be your friends and family. Let them know you are a collector, and have them send the stamps they receive over to you, they will likely be happy to save the stamps from their incoming mail for you to look over and select from. There are also products where companies send out a selection of stamps for the collector to look over. Generally, these programs allow the collection to keep the stamps for up to a month without charge. After a month's time, the collector can choose to purchase the stamps that are of interest, and return those that do not fit into their collection. Just remember to return the stamps you do not want on time!
Putting a value on your stamps
Although they are collectables, most stamps are actually valued at face value or less. That means that most stamps are worth a negligible amount of money. This is fine for most casual collectors however because they are simply collect for personal enjoyment, not financial investment. This is not to say of course that stamp collecting can never be lucrative. Stamps that range in value up to $50 are not uncommon.
Finding out more about stamp collecting
Stamp collecting is an extremely popular and old hobby all over the world. For this reason, there is no shortage of hobby groups that any prospective or experienced stamp collector can join. The main organization in the United States is the American Philatelic Society. The American Philatelic Society is one of the oldest and most well known organizations. All of these stamp collecting groups often sponsor trade shows, conventions, and other events, which promote networking, trading, and transactions involving stamp collections. And of course, as with so many things, there are also a host of online resources available for anyone interested in stamp collecting. Online beginner's guides are a great place to start for those new to stamp collecting, while price guides, social stamp collecting networks, and other resources are available for more seasoned collectors.