How to Start a Stamp Collection
By Joan Wenner
To collectors, stamps are worth far more than the value printed upon them. As the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., puts it, “Stamps are miniature gateways to the world.” Pique your interest? There are a few different ways to get into the world of philately.
Start by considering what interests you — is it a particular country or time period? A particular style of artwork? Knowledgeable dealers can help track down stamps issued by specific countries, or stamps related to specific time periods that helped shape regional or world history.
An essential rule of stamp collecting is that the condition of a stamp is highly important. Keep stamps in a clean, cool and dry place. Humidity and moisture can destroy the value of a collection.
Tools of the trade
- Stamp tongs (like tweezers) are used to pick up a stamp without damaging it.
- A magnifying glass can be used to examine stamps to appreciate and discover small details.
- Stamp catalogues will help you identify what’s in your collection, including information like issue date and printing methods.
- Albums form the foundation of a collection, and help collectors organize and protect their stamps.
There are many categories of stamps, but common types are “definitive,” your ordinary stamp used for sending letters; “commemorative,” which mark an event; and “provisional,” which is used as temporary issue.
There is much to learn about stamp collecting, and part of the fun comes in making connections with fellow collectors. Interact with other people in the hobby and check out exhibitions and shows. Take advantage of your community’s resources, such as local shops or clubs.
These organizations offer more information on stamp collecting online:
- American Philatelic Society | stamps.org
- U.S. Postal Museum | postalmuseum.si.edu
- American Stamp Dealers Association | americanstampdealer.com
About the AuthorJoan Wenner, J.D., is a longtime writer residing in Pitt County. She welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.