Collecting stamps is a popular hobby for all ages, walks of life, gender and race. While you may think that it’s not trendy nowadays, you might get surprised by the massive number of stamp collectors out there. Whether you are new to stamp collecting or not, here’s a quick guide, FAQs, and answers to help you out.
What Should I Look For When Collecting Stamps?
There are over 5 million stamp collectors in the United States to this date. All collect, sell, trade, or preserve stamps. If you want to become an expert philatelist or stamp collector, this hobby can be quite an investment, to begin with. Whether you are checking if you can trade several of them from your collections or sell them for cash; read along as we’ll try to cover every query you have in mind.
In case you received incorrect sizes, types, denominations, or wrong envelopes, you might ask yourself: “can you return stamps?” or are you allowed to exchange them for full stamp value? Quick answer, you can exchange postage stamps if these are full panels (full box of stamped envelope) and are intact or in great condition.
Furthermore, here are FAQs and answers you might have in mind:
What types of stamps should you collect?
When you collect stamps, there are several essential factors that you’ll need to consider, and one of those is the types of stamps you’ll prefer to collect. You can check stamps that are:
- Special – This stamp includes stamps for holiday celebrations, love, Christmas, Priority mail, express mail, and International rate
- Definitive – These stamps are printed in large amounts, smaller, or are published more than once
- Commemorative – These are colorful and large, frequently printed in limited qualities for once, and honor a specific person, subject, or event.
To give you a more specific collection, you may want to focus on a stamp type. For instance, you can collect stamps by topic, used or mint, country, and worldwide editions.
Where should you keep your stamps?
To keep your stamps in perfect shape and condition, you’ll need to secure them in the right place. A loose-leaf paper with binder or album using stamp hinges, stamp mounts made from clear plastic sleeves, or glassine strips with gum on one side is ideal for securing your stamps.
You can also use transparent envelope glassine to protect stamps from the air, grease, and various elements.
Where can you get stamps?
There are different ways on how you can find stamps. You may opt to purchase them from a local post office or a stamp dealer around your location. You can also check with your family, friends, or local businesses to keep some for you, primarily if they reside from various places or international locations.
Local stamp shows are also a great way to purchase, sell, or trade stamps from fellow philatelists. This is also a great way to find rare stamps when you meet with various collectors and learn new tips to preserve your stamps.
What equipment should you use?
As a stamp collector, you’ll need the following essential equipment:
- Perforation gauge: use to measure perforations from stamp edges
- Watermark fluid: to help you enhance the watermark, pattern, or design pressed on the stamp when manufacturing
- Tongs: to safely move and pick stamps
- Magnifying glass: to help you examine stamps closely
How to safely remove stamps from the envelope?
It’s essential for collectors who prefer used stamps to learn how to remove stamps from the envelope less the potential damages effectively. Here’s how to remove the stamp correctly:
- Cut or tear envelope around your stamp
- Leave small margins
- Soak stamps, face down for about 15 to 20 minutes in cold water
- Once your stamp freely floats, remove it from water using stamp tongs
- Dry between clean paper towels
- Place a heavy object like a book for one day to prevent curling
How to identify a worthy stamp?
If you sell stamps for cash, it’s best to identify which one is worth the investments. You may want to get a copy of the stamp catalog to know various stamps. This will give you a great guide of how every stamp’s worth varies by type and rarity. Whether you collect used or mint stamps, their condition affects their worth.
- Condition – Superb, fine, or good
- Rareness – Content, printing errors, and perforation
- Gum – Mint, unused, unused without gum
- Centering – Equal margin and visually appealing
Are there other philatelists out there?
There are plenty of clubs you may want to join to meet fellow stamp collectors. Either you’ll search online or locally, surely you’ll meet one. Check with a local librarian or post maker for organization listings.
Will you need insurance for your stamps?
For those who have rare stamp collections or have quite many stamps, protecting your stamps is vital as they serve as an investment. Check for insurance companies specializing in collectibles and fine arts as they’ll provide you with all-risk coverage.
What does hingeless mean?
It’s best to check for hingeless pages when keeping your stamps. These have transparent drop-end mount pages attached to them. These pages are more convenient and time-saver when mounting stamps in place.
Whether you inherit a massive amount of rare stamps or planning to start this hobby real soon, there are several important questions that you’ll want to consider. With these questions, you can quickly begin your stamp collection and decide whether you wish to collect, trade, or sell them later.