Stamp collecting is an age-old hobby that holds the interest of
millions of people the world over. Stamp collecting began in the
1840’s when the first stamps were issued. “Stamp madness,” or
“timbromania” swept through Europe and spread worldwide. Stamp
collecting is not as popular as it once was, but there are still
an estimated 25 million people in the US alone and over 200
million around the world who still collect.

It is not hard to get started in the infamous art of stamp
collecting, nor is it overly expensive. There are a few must
have items needed to begin: tweezer-like tongs to handle stamps,
a magnifying glass, a stamp album, and of course, the stamps.

The first thing to decide is what type of stamps you wish to
collect. Many people collect new stamps and just as many collect
used ones; it is all a matter of personal preference. If
collecting new stamps, there are thousands of Internet sites
selling stamps, there are dealers all over the world that sell
them, and there are even stamp auctions. If collecting used
stamps, most people will save stamps off of their mail and also
save the stamps off of all their friends and families mail. One
of the cheapest ways to start a large collection is buying a
roll of used stamps from a collector. You can get 1000 mixed
stamps for as low as $12.00.

Many people only collect stamps from their respective countries,
then there are some that collect worldwide stamps. If you like a
specific theme of stamp you can collect just that one type, such
as birds, ships, planes, animals, or even celebrities. The types
of stamps are as different as the people that collect them. It
is often a good idea to start with a general collection until
you decide exactly what type of stamp interests you.

After there are a good number of stamps in your collection they
need to be sorted. Most people will sort their stamps by
countries and or themes. Then go another step further and
arrange them alphabetically. This will make stamps much easier
to find.

When stamps have been accumulated, it is essential that you know
the proper ways to care for stamps so as not to ruin them. In
order to remove the stamp from the envelope, first cut around
the stamp carefully. Place the stamp face-up in a bowl of
luke-warm water and let it soak for about 20 minutes. When the
stamp comes off carefully put the stamp on a dry towel then use
the special stamp tweezers to put it into an album.

If looking for more information on stamps and stamp collecting,
the local post office is a good place to start. They usually
have separate philatelic counters. Some larger post offices also
sell a Stamp Collecting Start-up Kit. As a source for more
information there are also stamp clubs, magazines and stamp
catalogues, or experienced stamp dealers.
Author: Michael Perry