Stamps have been around almost as long as letters have been sent out and collecting these little windows of the different countries has been a hobby for almost as long. Stamp collecting is a hobby that has been done by presidents, kings and other famous people to children and just about any average person. Also known as philately, stamp collecting can be a great hobby for learning about other countries. You can learn about their history, their geography and even receive a little snapshot of their countries. Children can also learn about the currency of the country by the amount of money that the stamp is worth.
While collecting stamps you can ask yourself, why is that picture on the stamp? Quite often it is a person of some significance to the history of the country or someone that did something remarkable in that particular country. Or perhaps it is a flower or fruit that is indigenous to that area. It is interesting to take collecting just that one step further and question why that picture is on the stamp and learn more about it and now with the Internet, that can be even easier to do.
Before you begin stamp collecting, you will want to look into purchasing a few basis supplies. One of the major necessities for stamp collecting is an album to hold and display your stamps. These can be purchased at specialty hobby stores and can come in a variety of styles and sizes. They can cover a specific area such as flowers; airplanes etc. or cover a specific country such as Great Britain. If you cannot afford to purchase a whole album you can consider purchasing separate sheets and mark each sheet accordingly to the country perhaps or the object that you want to collect stamps on (like bears perhaps). But whatever you do, you will want to make sure the sheets are acid free and will keep your stamps safe.
Next, I would suggest you purchase a magnifying glass. This will aid you in viewing your stamps. The smallest details on your stamps can mean the world of difference. The valuable of a stamp can depend on the smallest of detail.
Another suggestion would be to purchase tongs for moving around your stamps. By using tongs to pick up your stamps, the grease and other unpleasentries that are naturally on your skin will not rub off onto your stamp and thus damaging the surface and possibly affecting the value. You will not want to use house hold tweezers as these could damage the stamp. Look for tongs that have a flat head and thus make it easy to pick up stamps.
One thing that is quite important is stamp hinges or mounts. Horrors of horrors if you actually glue your stamp to the paper it is being displayed on. Hinges are little scraps of paper that have glue affixed to them. Hinges do disturb the back of the stamp somewhat, so they can be used for used stamps but mounts do not affect the back of the stamp at all. So, if you have a stamp that is worth quite a bit, consider purchasing mounts for your valuable stamps.
Stamp collecting can be an individual or a family thing. You can start by asking friends and families for stamps (I am lucky, I work at a company that gets mail from all over the world!) You can soak them off the envelopes and there you have it; an addition to your stamp collection. You can go to your local post office and choose some new (or mint) stamps or go to a coin and stamp store (some larger cities have such stores.) There are several places you can go to get stamps if you search.
Is stamp collecting a thing of the past? While stamp collecting is not currently as a popular hobby as it perhaps once was (it would seem the children and possibly adults are seen as nerds, geeks or kind of weird). I am here in defence of stamp collecting as it can teach you so much about different countries by the picture on the stamp. It can also teach children organizational skills (they have to sort and keep their stamps organized). But with letter writing quickly becoming a thing of the past because of emails and faxes which seems to be the way to send just about everything these days, I wonder if stamp collecting will soon go the way of the dinosaur.