Collecting stamps is one of the most interesting hobbies that you can start off on. Stamps have been issued by countries in the world for years now and many of them are colourful, beautiful and miniature works of art. Stamps have wide ranging designs – commemoration of important events, flowers, animals, birds, flags, and famous personalities.
However, it is not only aesthetics that encourage millions of people around the world to take up stamp collecting as a hobby. It is highly educational too as you get to know about the geography of a country, its politics, religion and cultures.
Starting the collection
As a beginner, your first step would be to collect a large packet of whole-world stamps, a low cost album and gummed hinges for mounting the stamps. Sort out the stamps by country and arrange them in the album. Most of the stamps will have the name of the country written in simple English while some will have the local dialect. Put aside those that you have a doubt on for later research. The trick is to keep your interest alive by constantly replenishing your stock of stamps. If you cannot afford it at the initial stages, ask friends and family to supply you with stamps from letters they receive from abroad.
Building your album
When you have a large packet of stamps on your hands, it will be a mix of crossed and used stamps and unused ones. If you mix up both and hinge it to your album country wise, it will not look attractive. On a page, neatly arrange clear unused stamps and on another ones that have been lightly marked. Costs of these stamps are based on a number of factors. Unused stamps usually cost more as the dealers charge the face value plus their commission and profit. On the other hand, used stamps from remote territories are often difficult to find and hence are expensive.
The type of collection that you want to build up depends on you. One option to be exclusive is to start a one-country collection. This is advisable for beginners as new stamps released by all countries average about 9,000 a year and keeping track of newly introduced ones is almost impossible. You can also focus on a theme only such as flowers or animals.
Philately is huge in scope and scale. Start small and then branch out into new territories.