stamps for many different reasons. One is because they enjoy looking at all the
weird and wonderful stamps that are out there. Another reason is so they can
show off their collection to other people, or maybe because they are trying to
make money. The biggest reason, however, is because it's fun and is a good way
to pass the time. For whatever reason you collect stamps the basics are
still the same.
There are two
kinds of stamps you will come across when making your collection - definitives
and commemoratives. Definitives are stamps which are issued and kept in
circulation for a very long time. They will probably change only when
postal rates change. Commemoratives are fancier stamps which are only
printed for a limited
amount of time. These stamps commemorate special events or aspects of
culture. The stamp you see on the right is holographic commemorative stamp
from Lithuania, celebrating 80 years of the postal service.
collect stamps that are rare for one reason or another. Stamps can be rare
because they are old, because there are very few in existence, or both. The
value of a rare stamp can be monetary or purely sentimental. If its value is
monetary then the actual value depends on two things. First, as mentioned
earlier, how rare the stamp is, and second, what condition the stamp is in.
While you can not
change how rare a stamp is, you can preserve the condition of it. This is best
done by putting it in a protective plastic (as you still want to be able to see
the stamp) sleeve. You can buy folders with sleeves in them for you to put the
stamps into. Sometimes these folders come with spots pre-labeled for you
to put certain stamps in. These types of folders are more expensive,
The most common
way for a stamp's condition to be affected is because of accidents, so make sure
that you put your stamp collection in a safe place, away from any
children. Keep it in a clean, dry area as well.
are many ways to obtain stamps. The cheapest way if you are just starting your
collection is to get stamps off of envelopes that have already been used.
This will cost you nothing, so it is a good way to get your collection
going. To remove a stamp from an envelope you need to first cut it out
leaving a little but of paper on the edges. Then you place the stamp in a
pan of water and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Afterwards, you should
be able to nudge the stamp off the paper quite easily. If it still doesn't
come off, let it soak longer. You don't want to risk damaging the
stamp. You can place the stamps on paper towels to let them dry.
places to buy stamps include post offices, special philately (stamp collecting)
shops, or even over the internet. Sometimes the post office issues stamp
collections which you can buy on a sheet. The picture on the right is of a
stamp sheet from Japan commemorating popular cultural icons (click on the
picture for a larger view).
As your collection
grows you will probably be looking for more expensive and more rare stamps.
There are some internet sites that specialize in rare stamps, and also others
that deal with stamp collecting in general. Some are:
Some of the more
expensive stamps are ones with errors on them.
History | Why Stamps? | Stamp