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Why Stamp Collecting?

Since the inception of stamps in 1840, stamp collecting has become the most popular hobby in the world. However, if you are not a collector you may be asking, "Why stamps? Aren't stamps just pictures on little pieces of paper?". Scientifically speaking, yes that's correct. However, there is so much more to stamps that people of any age, any income and any interest can find some aspect of stamp collecting appealing, relaxing and very satisfying. today it is estimated that about 25 million people enjoy the hobby in the United States, while worldwide the estimated numbers of stamp collectors is around 200 million.

Stamps are History

Stamps represent historical events, people and places. Its an easy stepping stone to learning as much or as little about world or local history as you want. With the aide of a good stamp catalog the world is at your fingertips. Stamps makes learning fun and you might not even realize that you are learning. Its like visiting exotic places from your own den or living room.

Many ways to Collect

There are so many ways to choose how to collect. You can be a generalist and collect every stamp ever made. You can specialize in a particular area. Or you can be a generalist with a number of specialized areas. You can collect a specific country. Some favorite specialties involve collecting stamps from 'dead' countries or a particular kind of stamp from an area. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Few Supplies and Tools Required

Most stamp collectors mount their stamps in pre-printed stamp albums. There are many publishers of stamp albums ranging in cost from a few dollars to many hundreds of dollars for fine leather bound specialty albums. You will also need a nice magnifying glass to view the details of the stamp and a good set of stamp tongs to handle the small stamps without using your fingers. There are a variety of safe acid-free stamp mounts that are attached to the proper album page to protect the stamps. Stamp catalogs are published annually showing updated price values and pertinent information relating to every stamp ever issued. Your local library may also have out dated stamp catalogs available.

Some Specific Areas of Collecting

Here are a few very common areas of collecting: topical (ie: birds, castles, Disney), Precancels (ie: US or foreign), Machins (Queen Elizabeth heads), Perfins (stamps with holes punched into them), classics (stamps issued in the 19th century), forgeries, airmail, First Day of Issue and First Flight envelopes, postal history such as American Civil War mail, plate number blocks, just to name a few. What interests you?

Cost

Stamp collecting need not be an expensive hobby. The advantage of stamp collecting is it allows you the ability to spend as little or as much money as you want. Many areas of collecting cost less than 10 or 15 cents per stamp, while others can cost
hundreds or even thousands of dollars. You can choose!

Social Benefits

You can join a local stamp club and have weekly interactions with other collectors. This is a great way to meet people and make new friends. and share ideas. Clubs are also a good way to increase your social skills and enjoyment by getting involved in community events (such as a local stamp show).

Do it Alone: Stress Reducer

You can also do stamp collecting alone. You can spend as much time or as little time as you want. You can work with your stamps any time, rain or shine! Its a weatherproof hobby. Its a passive hobby that can help reduce stress and easily gives a feeling of accomplishment.

Time Needed

There are no time constraints with this hobby. You can dedicate as much time as you want. You can take periods of time off from the hobby and when ready, take your album off the shelf and jump right back in. This hobby offers great flexibility.

There is Always Something to Learn

You will never be done learning in this hobby. There are libraries of information on every subject of stamps and research is continuously uncovering more information. Also, new stamps are always being issued, creating even more items to be learned about and researched. If you want to be mentally challenged, then this hobby is for you. However, challenges are not a requirement to enjoy this hobby; some collectors collect stamps simply because the picture on the stamp appeals to them.

Future articles will cover the history of stamps, grading stamps, stamp values, and other great collecting information.