Stamp Collecting

The collection and study of postage stamps, philately, has been going on all over the world since stamps have been printed. With more than 200 countries printing stamps, there are lots to choose from. Then how exactly does one choose which stamps to collect? Much has to do with personal tastes and interests. It is not necessary to only collect rare or cancelled stamps.  Collect stamps with puppy dogs and kittens if that is what you enjoy. The most important factor in stamp collecting is having fun and feeling a sense of pride about your collection. However, here are a few tips for getting started if you don't know where to begin.

What to Consider

* '''Find a focus point.''' Choosing one type of stamp to create a them makes collecting fun and easy. The possibilities are endless. ** Try collecting stamps from a particular state, country, or time period. If you travel globally, stamps from around the world would be a good choice. ** Pick out a hobby or individual that interests you. If you are a bird enthusiast, look for bird stamps. * '''Decide between cancelled stamps'''. ** Mint stamps have never been used before. ** Cancelled stamps are those that have already been used to mail things. * '''Choose to collect old or new stamps.''' ** The newest stamps can be easily purchased since they are readily available, which makes this a good choice for young collectors. They are not a good choice if you want to try and make money off of them any time soon. ** Older stamps are harder to come by, but searching for stamps can be fun and such stamps will usually be worth more money. * '''Buy single stamps, sets or a mix of both.''' ** Single stamps are easier to come by when looking for old stamps. ** Sets are easiest to find new. If you find older sets make sure that they are full sets and not missing any stamps. The decreases if there are any stamps missing, plus finding that last stamp to fill the set will not be easy. * '''Remember to have fun!''' ** Collecting shouldn't be a chore or something that causes frustration. Enjoy yourself and all the treasures you come across on your journey!

Stamp Quality

Like with any collectible there are certain qualities that will determine the worth of a stamp. A rare stamp in good condition will always be worth more. In regards to condition, determining which ones are the most valued is usually measured by expertized stamps. A stamp that has been graded usually deems higher quality standards, thus these stamps will be worth more, but be aware that the authenticity of a graded stamp should be researched before purchasing it. In 2001, a grading system was developed to rate and grade stamp quality on centering, soundness, eye appeal and gum condition, so that stamps could be bought, sold and traded fairly. The institution, called the PSE (Professional Stamp Experts), has more information on authorized dealers, pricing guides and the details of how stamps are graded on quality. APS (American Philatelic Society) is the largest US stamp organization. Their expertizing services determine the quality and authenticity of stamps. The APS Web site has lots of information regarding stamps and is geared towards stamp enthusiasts.

Examples of Rare Stamps

How to Keep Your Stamps

*stock book with plastic covers or pockets or an album that comes with pictures of specific stamps to collect. * Tongs Using tongs instead of your fingers to handle stamps will improve their longevity. *Search for Stamps * APS Certified Stamps * PSE Certified Stamps * Expertized Stamps * Graded Stamps * US Stamps * Holiday Stamps * Commemorative Stamps * Airmail Stamps * World Stamps