Have you spotted Elvis Presley lately? You might if you’re a Philatelist. A “philatelist” can simply be defined as a “collector of stamps.” Philately is one of the world’s oldest and most popular hobbies.
To begin your own stamp collection, you’ll need to purchase a stockbook. This book is specially designed to hold stamps. It has strips running across each page to hold the stamps in. A stockbook is great for keeping “odds and ends” until you have enough stamps for a collection. You’ll then need an album to arrange and display your collection in.
You can find a stockbook at your local stationery store. Or, you can check eBay™ to see if there are ones for sale there.
You’ll also need a pair of stamp tongs. You can use an ordinary pair of tweezers to handle your postage stamps with, but tongs are better. Why? Because tweezers usually have pointed ends that can perforate or otherwise damage your stamp collection. You can check your local hobby store for a pair of stamp tongs. They’re not expensive to buy.
You may now wonder why you can’t handle your stamps with your bare hands. This is because your skin contains oils and dirt in your pores. The oils and dirt can actually stain or discolor a postage stamp.
Keep in mind too that the best place to store your stamp collection is in a cool, dry place. If your postage stamps become moist, they will stick together and be ruined.
The next step in this project is to decide what kinds of stamps you want to collect. Most philatelists are “Worldwide” collectors. This means they collect stamps from all around the globe.
Or, you may choose to collect stamps by one or more countries. Or, you may choose to collect topical stamps. This means that your collection will contain stamps that pertain to a certain topic, such as celebrities, history, birds, et cetera.
Probably the least expensive way to become a specialized collector is by purchasing a ready-made collection of stamps. Collections often cost less than buying stamps one-by-one. You’ll need to shop around to find the best prices available. Again, eBay™ is a great place to look for these as well.
However, you don’t want to get ripped off when you start buying stamps. You don’t want to pay too much! This year’s “Official Blackbook Price Guide to United States Postage Stamps” (Amazon.com) is a a handy reference book that can help you determine the values of the stamps you want to purchase.
You can also search the Internet for stamp clubs and other related sites where you can buy, sell or trade your stamps. You can gain a lot of free advice as well from these clubs.
A good source of free stamps is from family, friends, and even from your own mailbox! Ask everyone you know to save unusual-looking stamps for your collection. If you know someone traveling overseas, you can get foreign stamps easily that way too.
For many, stamp collecting produces little, if any, income. Philatelists do it just for the love of the hobby! However, just one stamp, such as the “1923 Benjamin Franklin 1 cent stamp”, for example, can fetch as much as $60,000! Be sure you know the current market value for each of your stamps. Who knows? You could get your hands on a rare find!
For further information, log on to the American Philatelic Society’s website at www.stamps.org/. Founded in 1886, the APS is comprised of over 50,000 stamp collectors from over 110 countries. It’s the world’s largest nonprofit society for stamp collectors!
Above all, enjoy your newfound hobby of Philately!