Introduction to Stamp Collecting

Building a Collection

By Jim Watson

The first step in building a collection is to make sure the collector has an objective in mind. It needn't be in great detail but decide on what limitations, if any, there are. When new collectors are asked what they collect, some people say "stamps I like." This is certainly an acceptable starting point, but, as discussed earlier, one tends to focus on a limited interest soon.

Once the objective has been determined, the next step is to fill in the details of what is to be added to the collection. The catalogue is a good guide to the stamps which can be added. There are also lists of stamps related to topical subjects available from the American Topical Association. One can also find articles in the literature which will give a spark of interest for a collection. The result of this study is a want list -- either formally written or mentally noted. Once an objective is in mind, it is time to search for material.

The Stamps category of eBay auctions is a ready-made marketplace with many thousands of items offered and sold each week. And everything can be done from the comfort of your own home!  There are other on-line auctions catering to stamp collectors which many find useful.

One technique which the beginning collector might consider is to buy an entire collection or large packet. Go through the material and select the items which fill spaces in your collection. Then take the rest and sell it as a smaller collection. You can also add your duplicates to make an even larger lot.

Stamp collectors are one of the joys of stamp collecting. Good friends can be made and lots of philatelic knowledge gained by membership in a local stamp club. Find out when and where they meet, and drop by for an evening of fun. The clubs welcome newcomers.

Certainly the quickest access to new stamps many collectors will have is to visit a local stamp dealer. Established dealers are fine sources of material and information. It's a great opportunity to spend some time learning about stamps first hand. Dealers who display the American Stamp Dealers Association (ASDA) and/or American Philatelic Society (APS) emblems can be expected to be honest and fair in their business dealings. They are happy to help new collectors get started.

These are just a few of the many ways to find material to add to your collection. Other ways include approvals, mail order, purchases from national philatelic agencies, and bidding in auctions held by brick-and-mortar philatelic auctioneers. As time goes on and collecting tastes are refined, collectors find good ways to add the materials of interest. Some items are difficult to find but once found are rewarding to the collector who is patient and perserveres. The pursuit is at least half the fun! Good luck!



A Brief History
Why People Collect Stamps
Major Stamp Categories
Factors Influencing Value
Tips for Finding and Buying Stamps
Tips for Listing and Selling
Displaying or Storing
Stamp Collecting Tools
Caring for Stamps
Insuring Your Collection
Books and Other Sources
Building a Collection
Describing Stamp Condition
I Have This Stamp Collection...
Appendix I: Tips for Finding
   and Buying Stamps on eBay

Appendix II: Tips for Listing
   and Selling Stamps on eBay

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