Friday, February 10, 2006

Tools for Stamp Collecting

There are only a few basic pieces of equipment for the stamp collecting trade. Still if you are beginning your stamp collecting, it is entirely possible to get started without these supplies. You will find only that you will need to get them at some point so that you can display or gather your collection.

The first piece of equipment you will need will be a stamp album. Until you get a fair number of stamps, you should stick to displaying them in an album. The album basically is a way for you to keep them without messing up any of them. These albums work kind of like photo albums, and there are many varieties from which to choose. You may want to begin by purchasing a very small stamp-collecting album. Although it is purely psychological manipulation, you may find that you work better if you have only 30 or 50 slots to fill instead of 5,000. You will be able to complete an album and show it off to friends much more quickly.

You can get albums that are plain on the front and will allow you to decorate. You may want to give these albums a try. Other albums are not fully customizable, but they do allow you to mark the stamps. You can put the dates or the theme of the stamps in a particular album if you happen to collect by theme. You also may want to consider getting the albums that will allow you to document information about the stamps. These albums have little sleeves into which you can slip pieces of paper with information about the stamp, such as the date of origination, the date you acquired it, and its historical value. These albums will be particularly interesting for people who are looking at your stamp collection in later years.

The second piece of equipment you will need is a magnifying glass. It is possible to pick up a small magnifying glass for only $2 or $3 although you will want to upgrade as you go. For beginning collectors, the magnifying glass is helpful because it will allow you to look at the detail on the stamps you have collected. The whole process will be more fun when you can really see what you are gathering. As you move along in the hobby, then you will discover that the stamps will become worth more money, which means that frauds are more likely. Big-time collectors who get magnifying glasses do so in order to check out the authenticity of the stamps.

The third piece of equipment will be a pair of stamp tweezers. These tweezers are different from the basic ones you can buy in the makeup aisle. They are intended for use on stamps so that they are designed to be delicate enough to use on stamps. The ridges on them are perfectly designed for picking up stamps and putting them back down in a collection. Still, you should be careful. You can find these tweezers online or in craft and hobby stores.

Finally, you will need a pocket to collect your stamps. This pocket will be particularly important if you have people gathering their mail for you for used stamps. You can get any type of plastic envelope, which you can find at an office supply store, or you can get a cloth change purse. Basically you will need a place to store parts of envelopes containing stamps that you want to use. Keep them in this pouch for safekeeping until you get back to your collection and can put them in an album.

These basics will get you started on your stamp collection. Really, you should be able to get all of these items for less than $20, much less if you look around for bargains. Still that price tag is a small one for starting a hobby. The rest of stamp collecting you can do on the cheap, so you really will be getting your hobby started for peanuts. Since stamp collecting often becomes a lifelong joy for people who are interested in it, you should plant to be able to upgrade your equipment later. Do not worry about that now; just get what you think will be best to help you start your collection.

By Julia Mercer

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