The A Guide to Collecting Stamps

A GUIDE TO COLLECTING STAMPS
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How to collect stamps.

Stamp collecting can be a lot of fun whether you are doing it to turn a major profit or simply love tracking down those stamps are the most difficult to obtain. Many people inherit a stamp collection, and are bothered that they need to now keep up this life’s work, only to find that it’s one of the most fun things a person can do! However, stamp collecting is something that needs to be entered into with some knowledge, on how to collect, where to find stamps, and how to treat them once you have found them. This guide will give you all the details that will let you turn those few stamps into something that you will cherish for a lifetime!

Where to Find Stamps
If you are just starting your collection, the best places to start are at fairs, stamp shows, or hobby shops. Often these merchants will offer books of 500 stamps or so for approximately $5.00. These stamps are not only great for kick-starting a collection but can also make for good practice if you need to learn the art of placing stamps in an album or removing backings from stamps.

Another great place to find stamps is of course, in your daily mail. Christmas time and other holidays are especially great times to find unique stamps in your mail as it is during this time that many special edition stamps are issued to commemorate the holidays. Carefully cut out the stamp while it is still on the envelope and remove it carefully using the instructions below. Until then, keep them in a dry place where they will not be creased or damaged in any way.

When you’re first collecting stamps, you’ll probably want to start with whatever stamps you can find but as your collection grows, you will find that certain stamps will interest you more than others. Some tend to focus on stamps from different regions, while others prefer more playful stamps, such as those of certain animals or fun themes. Whichever stamps you choose to collect, or whether you want to collect them all, there is no right or wrong when it comes to what type you want to hang onto!

Tools for Stamp Collecting
The tools that you choose to use when you begin to collect stamps can be very few, as it truly is a hobby that doesn’t require a huge investment. As your collection becomes larger and you start to learn more about the world of stamp collecting, you may choose to buy more supplies that will allow you to do more advanced things with the collection and with the stamps you collect. Here a few of the basic stamp collecting supplies.

Stamp Tongs: Some people choose to use regular household tweezers but these won’t do as tweezers have very sharp corners that could tear the stamps. Stamp tongs are one tool that you will need when you get your very first stamp, as they will help to gently pry stamps off of paper and should always be considered your ‘third hand’ when handling and placing your stamps as they do not contain the natural oils that skin does and will pose no harm to stamps. Stamps should always be lifted, sorted and placed with tongs and never hands, unless you are soaking them.

Magnifying Glass: These are really cool to have as you can look over your stamps very carefully to examine for tears, rips, or other damage marks. Just buy a cheap one when you first start out but if you find that you use it a lot or when you become more serious about your collection, invest in a glass one as the plastic kind can cause some eye strain.

Glassine Envelopes: These envelopes are thin and transparent and don’t contain any of the harmful acid that regular envelopes do so they will protect your stamps and keep them in pristine condition until you are ready to transfer them into an album.

Stamp Hinges: These tools are very cheap to buy and these hinges simply get gummed to the stamp while one piece is then gummed to the album. This firmly fixes the stamp to the page of the album.

Albums: Albums are a must for any collector so that you may view, display, and show your stamps quickly and easily, without worrying about any of the precious stamps getting ruined. Albums come in preprinted form, with printed spots for certain stamps, or in a blank form, where there are spots reserved for stamps and you simply just put them in. Start with a cheap album when you’re just starting as they can get pricey and the more expensive should be saved for when your collection becomes a bit more advanced.

Separating Stamps
There’s no doubt that the hardest part of stamp collecting is separating the stamp from the pieces of paper that they sometimes come attached to, such as in the daily mail. However, this is also most likely the largest part of collecting that new collectors will find themselves doing, as they look to ordinary bills and letters to start their collection off. Separating stamps from paper doesn’t have to be extremely intimidating or difficult though. With just a few simple steps and some patience, you can have dry, single stamps in very little time!

Stamps can be separated from paper by just sitting in a glass bowl that is full of lukewarm water. Don’t use hot water as this can make color run and can ruin stamps while cold water won’t take the stamp off the paper or the adhesive off the back of the stamp. When you’re just starting out, only try to soak a few stamps at one time and then when you’re more experienced, you can start to place more stamps into the water. Stamps generally only take about 15 minutes to soak and then the paper will come off nicely. However, the self-adhesive kinds of stamps that are so popular these days in the regular post can take as long as 45 minutes. Be sure to change the water often so that the dirt or adhesive from one stamp doesn’t become lodged on another. When the stamps are finished soaking, take them out carefully with your finger (stamp tongs will most surely destroy your wet stamps) and gently use your thumb and forefinger to scrape off any excess adhesive. Once you are finished soaking, place all of the stamps, again in smaller batches, into a bowl of clean water to rinse them off and give them a final soak.

Once your stamps have been soaked they then need to be dried. Do this by gently lifting them out of the second bowl of clean water and laying them face-up on a paper towel. Do not use newspaper as the ink will run onto the stamps. Then place another paper towel over them and gently blot away any excess water. Leave your stamps to dry overnight so that you know that they are perfectly dry before you place them into an album.




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