By the looks of it, I know it sounds pretty boring even for a hobby. So not all enjoy this form of hobby you know. Then why am I even writing about this hobby, is it some kind of a diabolical scheme, something intriguing so that you get hooked on to this hobby? Nope, nothing of that sort. Oh sure, stamp collecting has surely be termed as the world’s greatest hobby, but what exactly has made it all that to be the pinnacle of all hobbies? Stamp collecting, more than a hobby, is a craze among enthusiasts to collect since it gives them a feeling that they have a piece of history, a piece of art in their stamp collection books. How many times has it happened that when you open your mailbox, you come across a rather interesting postage stamp and you keep telling yourself that hey, I can start collecting these little things. Well, FYI, stamp collecting is a rather interesting hobby and lets face it, when you walk into a museum and you come across a rather old stamp collection, you always get the feeling that that you could start off with something like this too and why not right, I mean, how difficult can it really get?
If these are the thoughts that have been hovering in and around your head, I’m pleased to formally greet you by saying, “Welcome to the world of stamp collecting…” Careful as we are in picking our words, this hobby is one of the few that are spread the world over. One of the best things about this hobby is that since people from every background are engaged in this hobby, the stamps collected by them will also differ for the simple reason that they might rather find some peculiar property of certain stamps a bit more interesting than others, which makes this hobby a bit unique. That’s because it is assured that the stamp collectors won’t be having the same collections throughout and they are bound to differ. Besides, compared to other hobbies, it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that collecting stamps is an inexpensive hobby. I mean c’mon, what would you rather go for, collecting model airplanes and cars or simply collecting some stamps? Stamp collecting is quite an ancient hobby with the first stamp, i.e., Penny Black, being showcased to the entire world in the 1840s and soon, after a decade or two, children all over England became engrossed in the entire concept of collecting stamps.
This stamp collecting rage was even continued when children grew up to be adults thereby making stamp collecting a hobby not just for children, but even for the adults. And this has well gone throughout the 21st century even where stamp collecting has got its rightful place as perhaps the world’s greatest hobby. Take this for statistics, more than 19 million Americans are engaged in the hobby of stamp collecting and that’s only America we’re talking about, if you take the statistics of each of the countries, boy, are you going to be surprised or what!!! Timbromania (stamp madness) has affected the world indeed and people are getting infatuated by this hobby every second, even as we talk about it, may be 2-3 kids have already started filling up their stamp collection books. People would perhaps do anything to get their hands on those stamps that have a possible defect on them, the most famous stamp in this respect being the Inverted Jenny. Nobody could understand how such a defect could take place in printing out a stamp which in this case was simply a picture of a plane was mistakenly printed upside down. Stamp collectors did everything they could imagine to catch a glimpse of that specific stamp which only adds to the whole craze of stamp collecting.
This takes us to the profitable aspect of stamp collecting. Just as you may have seen rare items being sold for a good sum of money, rare stamps too can be sold for quite a profit. Lets take the earlier example of the Inverted Jenny for this one too, shall we? Only about a 100 stamps of the Inverted Jenny were released in public and you’d be quite surprised at the fact that simply a block of four stamps were auctioned out for a staggering $2.7 million. Stamp collecting is one hobby that if it could speak for itself, would pass out a comment like “How do you like them apples???” to any other hobby in the world. Chasing a rare/misprinted stamp is something that really serious stamp collectors indulge in. Selling/auctioning off rare stamps could make you, as a stamp collector pretty rich and if you get to make some big bucks simply by pursuing a hobby, well, what more could you possibly ask for?
Well, that’s that for stamp collecting. Lets move on to something that was not discussed even in the earlier article. Yes, we are referring to “philately”. Philately is nothing but a careful observation or a study of postal as well as revenue stamps. You should remember that this is not the same as stamp collecting since avid philately enthusiasts will simply study the rare and exquisite nature of the stamps without even expecting to own them some day. This simply points out to the fact that not all philately enthusiasts are stamp collectors. Philately came into existence when people starting observing fine details of stamps like for example, all the same stamps were not printed on the same kind of paper. Differences like variations in the watermarks, colors used, etc. made this hobby quite an intelligent one helping people to develop an eye for details. For a collector, a stamp may as well be just a collector’s item, but for a philatelist, it’s more of the study that captures his interest.
So many years have passed and people over the years always said that stamp collecting and philately will eventually just fade out as kids become acquainted with other forms of recreational activities. People who said that surely must be twitching and getting spasms in their graves because boy, were they wrong!!! Stamp collecting and philately can be quite a fun activity for people of all ages. And it’s pretty safe to say that this hobby is going quite steady, even in the 21st century, so why not, why not take up this hobby and find out more about those little bits of paper that we call “stamps”. It even educates you about the cultural and geographical features of countries all over and the more you find out about it, the more enticing it will become and besides, isn’t this what hobbies are all about?
Collecting stamps is not only fun, but also increases your knowledge on history and geography even without you realizing it. By looking at a stamp you can understand the year of its existence and the country in which it was printed. Collecting stamps is also a good way of making new friends and for parents it’s a great way of their children getting together without creating a ruckus. Collecting stamps can give you immense pleasure and every stamp collected creates an urge to collect more and it is this thrill of not knowing which stamp might turn up, which makes stamp collecting an interesting hobby. Many children carry over this childhood hobby well into the rest of their lives because it is a hobby without any limitations or boundaries.
Collecting stamps is a better hobby than many other hobbies because first and foremost it occupies very little space. The money required to start this hobby is very less as compared to collecting ‘dinky’ cars or toy planes. This hobby is safer and less hair-raising than collecting bugs or butterflies. All you need is to purchase a stamp collection book and a pair of special stamp holding tweezers to handle your stamps. You can immediately start collecting stamps by removing the stamps from your mail. These can be steamed off the envelope so that they come out without any damage. These stamps can then be inserted in your stamp collection book in the slots provided or you can use hinges, which are basically small pieces of folded paper with a weak gum on both sides. This weak gum ensures that you do not damage the stamp while removing it. Collecting stamps is a hobby without any limits or borders as there are thousands and thousands of stamps being circulated throughout the world. So the chances of you getting bored are negligible. Do not throw away any duplicate stamps, which you might have received. You can use them in exchange for another stamp of your choice. The infinite range of stamps covers famous personalities, cars, planes, historical events, animals, birds, etc. The list is endless and this is what could make you into an avid stamp collector or philatelist.
Where can stamps be procured?
Along with removing them from your mail, you can also purchase stamps from various dealers and associations. You can find out a lot about stamps by buying catalogues from ‘The Scotts Collection’, where all the stamps are classified and numbered and this method has been adopted by many dealers and stamp collectors to arrange their stamp collection. You too can check out the catalogues.
I have started my collection. Now what?
Once you have your own collection of stamps and if your friends too have started collecting them, then you can sit together and check out each other’s collections. You will be surprised at the vast range of stamps, which have been issued around the world. You will also learn some things like “Noyta CCCP” means that the stamp was issued in Russia. This is a fun way to spend time with your friends and even make some new ones. You can then start ‘bartering’ your stamps with your friends. This means that you can exchange your stamp for another one, which you do not have. This will take care of any duplicate stamps, which you might have collected by mistake. Slowly, as you will begin realizing the monetary value of your stamps, you will be able to identify those stamps that have a high value and those which are rare. You can exchange these stamps by offering 2 or 3 less rare stamps in return. You can also start subscribing to various stamp collecting magazines, like the Global Stamp News or the Scott Monthly Journal, which will give you information about rare stamps and also about people who want to trade, or buy or sell stamps. Many people have, in this way turned their hobby into a full-time profession.
Proper storage of your stamps is also very important. Your stamps should be in a good condition. The perforations should be as perfect as possible and hence when removing it from an envelope, do not try to pull it off by using force. Once you have applied enough steam, you can easily pick it off the envelope with your tweezers without any effort. Store them in your stamp collection book by sticking them onto the hinges provided or by slotting them in their positions. It is also very important to learn to identify fake stamps, which could otherwise spoil your collection and your mood. Show any suspicious stamps to a reputed dealer to get an idea about its authenticity. The value of a stamp is determined by its rarity, its condition and the year of issue. By subscribing to magazines, you will also come to know about any stamp shows in your area. You can attend these shows to check out the vast range of stamps on display and sale. You can also meet like-minded people in these shows thereby expanding your range of knowledge in this field.
So, you too can start collecting stamps by following the guidelines given above. Start slowly and soon you will be able to build up your collection and knowledge along the way. You will be able to meet new people with similar tastes and will be able to spend hours checking out and discussing each other’s collections. As your collection grows in size, you might slowly be able to attach a monetary value to your collection. You could realize that what once started out as just a new hobby has turned into something of great value, historically and financially. Go ahead, start your stamp collection now.