Stamp collecting, for the uninitiated, is the collection of stamps from around the globe. Technically, it is called a philatelic collection. And if you think it’s a hobby for kids and weird ones, you’ll be surprised at how many people, great and small have been indulging in this hobby for years. It has become serious enough that people are setting up and maintaining organizations that study these postal artifacts with care and respect.
Stamps have a certain amount of history and culture attached to them, and that makes them so fascinating to collect. You are brought face to face with different cultures and different time periods. Browsing though a stamp album is pretty much like browsing through history itself.
And while many hobbies require very expensive equipment, stamp collecting requires inexpensive and readily available equipment to enjoy. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to set up you collection, not to mention straightforward and engaging.
So you’ve started your own stamp collection, huh? You’ve invested in tools and albums and are ready and raring to start you stamp collecting career. The only bummer is that you don’t know where to get your stamps.
For starting collectors, here are a few sources of collecting stamps to help you build up your stash of postal wonders.
1. Mail – Yes, the oldest and cheapest means of getting stamps is the mail that gets to your mailbox. And while the amount of mail you are receiving may be affected by the advent of the internet and email, mailboxes are still a great way to get stamps. However, you will have to take great care in handling such stamps as you have to learn how to properly soak and mount these stamps for you collection.
Your friends and neighbor are also a good source of stamps. You can tell them of your hobby, and more often than not, they’d be happy to give their unused stamps to you. You may have to instruct them to give you the envelope as it is so that you can properly process the stamps out. Or you may have them cut out the stamp from the envelope – while, of course, leaving a lot of leeway around the stamp.
2. Trading – during your stamp collecting career, you will definitely come across a glut of same stamps. Well, if you have two of the same kind, why not find another stamp enthusiast and swap stamps. Trading stamps is one of the most exciting activities in stamp collecting. It’s a great way to meet fellow enthusiasts and a great way to land your hands – I mean stamp tongs (never handle your stamps without them!) on a unique stamp.
But before you consider trading a stamp, you have to examine them if they truly are alike. Some stamps may look alike, but may actually be different. Try looking at the perforation count using a perforation gauge, or at watermarks and fine detail. And to top that, look at every minutiae, including wear, tear, and damage. This will help you assess whether the stamp you are trading is worth trading after all.
You may also trade some of the unique ones in your collection for unique ones that you like better. But that is a trickier and more complicated story.
3. Sellers – there are some that sell stamps either as a collector’s item or in bulk. Many collectors have duplicate stamps – just like you. You may be able to get good deals on these stamps especially if they are not rare.
In the case of rare stamps, you will find that they will cost a greater deal of money. If you are starting out in your hobby, you may want to focus on the easier ones to procure before going after the bigger fish.
Some will sell bulk orders of assorted stamps. This is a great way to beef up your collection, especially if you are starting out.
There is a multitude of ways to get your hands on stamps – everyone as exciting as the other. The trick here is to be consistent in your collecting efforts. Try not to pass up on opportunities to get new stamps for your collection. In terms of value and enjoyment, they definitely become more fulfilling as time goes by.