If you enjoy history or have a fascination with the past then why not try stamp collecting?
It’s an interesting and rewarding hobby that can provide hours of enjoyment as well as a thrilling chase for the world’s rarest finds.
Postage stamps are small works of art – they’re colourful, well-designed and beautifully printed, and help illustrate history and geography by commemorating everything from famous people and events to animals and birds, flowers, railways, ships and aeroplanes, buildings and bridges, coats-of-arms, flags, space and sport.
Most collectors start with a few stamps of personal significance; for example a commemorative stamp from the Olympics or a rare stamp saved from a letter received from abroad. From there, you can collect, trade and purchase stamps to build out a colourful collection that brings history to life one small square at a time.
Starting your own collection
The first thing you’ll need to start your own collection is a few tools to make the job easier. Some collectors choose to wear cotton gloves while handling stamps, but at this stage unless you have something very rare in your possession a magnifying glass and good pair of tweezers is all you really need to arrange your stamps and enjoy your collection.
You’ll also need to purchase an album to hold your stamps in. You can purchase bound albums that arrange pages by country, or devise your own system in a loose-leaf album with a multi ring system. At first your album may feel quite sparse, but over time you can build up a collection that has the added benefit of being organised from day one.
Purchasing a starter pack is a simple and inexpensive way to build your collection. Stamp specialists like Stanley Gibbons sell great starter packs along with everything else you need to get started. The advantage of a starter pack is it gives you an opportunity to learn more about stamps, figure out what you like, and help you get a feel for how you’d like to arrange your collection. If you’re looking for commemorate stamps in particular, the Royal Mail is a great place to start – you can purchase limited and special edition stamp sets in store or on the website.
As you start to accumulate more and more stamps you might find you have duplicates or have several dozen stamps – from different countries or time periods – that don’t particularly interest you.
Instead of selling them or throwing them away, save your unwanted stamps to swap at local stamp fairs and Philatelic exhibitions – enthusiasts from all over the country assemble at these events and with a broad range of interests there’s a good chance you can swap your unwanted stamps for something else that fits in alongside the rest of your collection.
Joining a stamp collector’s club is also a great way to swap stamps and meet others who share your interests. Most groups meet once monthly to share and enjoy their collections, learn more about the history of stamps and swap or sell with one another. If you’d like to find events or societies in your area, the Association of British Philatelic Societies is a great place to start; you can search societies by region as well as browse upcoming events from their website.
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