Introduction to Stamp Collecting

Why People Collect Stamps

By Jim Watson

The fascination of stamp collecting lies in the opportunities it provides for study of so many things and the opportunity for individual expression. We can learn about history, geography, biography, science, language, printing, paper, postal history, and almost any endeavor. It satisfies our desire for order and acquisition. It can be aesthetically rewarding as we mount the material in a pleasing presentation or admire the beauty of the small artworks.

Stamp collecting is a hobby that can be pursued along any avenue which interests you. While there are no rules on what to collect, there are standards that have been defined over the years to guide the study of philatelic* material. There is also an extensive body of literature that records the knowledge collectors have gleaned over the years concerning stamps and philately. There is still original research being done to focus on items of interest to collectors. Journals and clubs are available for idea and information exchange and for socialization. The Internet expands opportunities for collectors. Anyone can now publish stamp studies easily on home pages. Showing philatelic material is as simple as scanning an item and uploading it to your Web site. This is a key to the success for eBay stamp sales.

Although a box filled with stamps torn off envelopes may be a collection, it probably misses the best point of stamp collecting, which is the study, identification, and organization of philatelic material. An expensive collection is not always the most interesting or the most rewarding. More often, it is the collection that has been assembled in an interesting manner by a knowledgeable collector. One collection that has been a prizewinner in club shows is made of material that originally started as a $3.50 box of U.S. Columbian cut squares (corners from Columbian embossed stamped envelopes).

* Words in red are defined in the Glossary section - see link under Outline at right.



A Brief History
Why People Collect Stamps
Major Stamp Categories
Factors Influencing Value
Tips for Finding and Buying
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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