Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stamp Collecting Tips

Stamp collecting is an age-old hobby that holds the interest of millions of people the world over. Stamp collecting began in the 1840s when the first stamps were issued. "Stamp madness," or "timbromania" swept through Europe and spread worldwide. Stamp collecting is not as popular as it once was, but there are still an estimated 25 million people in the US alone and over 200 million around the world who still collect.

It is not hard to get started in the infamous art of stamp collecting, nor is it overly expensive. There are a few must have items needed to begin: tweezer-like tongs to handle stamps, a magnifying glass, a stamp album, and of course, the stamps.

The first thing to decide is what type of stamps you wish to collect. Many people collect new stamps and just as many collect used ones; it is all a matter of personal preference. If collecting new stamps, there are thousands of Internet sites selling stamps, there are dealers all over the world that sell them, and there are even stamp auctions. If collecting used stamps, most people will save stamps off of their mail and also save the stamps off of all their friends and families mail. One of the cheapest ways to start a large collection is buying a roll of used stamps from a collector. You can get 1000 mixed stamps for as low as $12.00.

Many people only collect stamps from their respective countries, then there are some that collect worldwide stamps. If you like a specific theme of stamp you can collect just that one type, such as birds, ships, planes, animals, or even celebrities. The types of stamps are as different as the people that collect them. It is often a good idea to start with a general collection until you decide exactly what type of stamp interests you.

After there are a good number of stamps in your collection they need to be sorted. Most people will sort their stamps by countries and or themes. Then go another step further and arrange them alphabetically. This will make stamps much easier to find.

When stamps have been accumulated, it is essential that you know the proper ways to care for stamps so as not to ruin them. In order to remove the stamp from the envelope, first cut around the stamp carefully. Place the stamp face-up in a bowl of luke-warm water and let it soak for about 20 minutes. When the stamp comes off carefully put the stamp on a dry towel then use the special stamp tweezers to put it into an album.

If looking for more information on stamps and stamp collecting, the local post office is a good place to start. They usually have separate philatelic counters. Some larger post offices also sell a Stamp Collecting Start-up Kit. As a source for more information there are also stamp clubs, magazines and stamp catalogues, or experienced stamp dealers.


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