By:- Shahid A. Zaki
Stamp Collecting is the most popular hobby of the world today. It is not the Hobby of Kings but the king of hobbies too. It will be best to introduce yourself to this enriching hobby and spend time at home gaining knowledge about Geography, History, Currencies of the World, Great personalities, International Events, etc. Starting at an early age will enable you to understand the hobby and enjoy the real fun of it.
If your father is an office going person or a businessman, ask him to collect the stamps that come on the office mail. Your uncles or father’s friends can also help. It is most expected that you will repeatedly get stamps of the same countries, do not get discouraged, and keep on collecting for a few months.
How to take stamps off the envelopes? Just tear off the corners of the envelopes with the stamps. When you wish to take them off the paper, soak them into water for an about 30 minutes. All stamps will be separated from paper. Soak them in another container of fresh water for a few minutes, take them out gently one by one dry them face down on an absorbent paper like old newsprint. The stamps will curl when dry. Put them in between the pages of a thick book.
What kind of stamps should be collected? First collect every stamp that comes FREE! Later you can make your choice. You can choose stamps on one particular topic that you like the most. Like flowers, animals, sports, maps, flags, buildings, personalities, aircrafts, ships, train, etc. Then you can even choose a sub-branch like from the topic Animals you can choose Birds, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Reptiles, or any other. You can also choose a country and collect as many different stamps of it as possible. For this you will later need stamp catalogues. Get a photo copy of it through a stamp club or society.
What kind of stamps should be avoided? Stamps that are creased or torn, that have missing perforation teeth, who’s paper has been thinned, that has been stained by oily tapes or discolored by glues, or those postmarked very heavily, should be avoided. These stamps are worth much less than stamps not having all the above mentioned defects. Moreover stamps of bogus countries like Nagaland,
How to store stamps? Stamps should never be stuck to printed page albums, by means of tapes or glues. They should carefully be stored in stock books. These have transparent pocket strips. Keep changing the positions of your stamps in the stock books. Never lay your stock books flat keep them upright. Expose the pages of your stock books to sunlight for a few seconds each, every month.
Where to unload your duplicate & surplus stamps? Become member of a stamp collector’s club or society and get numerous benefits. Go to the monthly meetings of your society where you can meet new stamp collectors. Most probably you can find some one interested in your duplicates and surplus material. If not auction it at a throw away price. The money you generate can be spent on buying more stamps of your requirements. Put in an advertisement for sale of your material in the bulletin or chronicle of your society.
How can you enrich knowledge through stamps? Studying stamps is necessary. It will be foolish to keep on collecting the coloured labels and not even looking into what they have to show and say. Collecting and studying stamps will make you curious about the country’s location, currency and if you ask any senior collector or consult Encyclopedias you will dig out a little history too. The picture depicted on the stamp has a story to tell, it might increase your general knowledge. The postmarks on the stamps will introduce you to different cities of a particular country.
How can you enrich your pocket through stamps? This is a task. But when you meet different collectors, and learn about their collecting interests, you can always hunt on those. Another way is to build up a spare collection on a popular theme like, Flowers, animals, sports, flags, etc. and sell it when it has become of good size, say about 200 stamps or over. Yet another way is to explore all your relatives, and you might run into some one who used to collect stamps. He / she might give you his / her album – well, it is a possibility! Yet another way is to make small investments upon the tips provided by senior collectors in stamp chronicles and magazines. These little investments pay well.
Another thing that might pay is keeping your eyes open. Differences of any kind in the printing of stamps are considered collectibles and pay several times more that its usual price or face value. Comparing different copies of similar stamps may prove fruitful in this respect.
How to become popular amongst fellow stamp collectors? This is yet another task. If you select a theme, select a very special branch of it. For example if you like to collect birds on stamps collect, Birds of Prey, Shore Birds, Extinct birds, Endangered species of Birds, The Eagle family, etc. The news will spread steadily and people will hunt and sell you stamps of your special theme.
Should you buy stamps, if yes, which ones? You can only accumulate the latest stamps from the daily mail but for the older ones you will have to avail the opportunity of dealers and collectors / dealers. When you collect any special theme, you should collect them in sets or First Day Covers, are special printed envelopes prepared to be used only on the First Day of Issuance of a particular stamp or set of stamps. Complete envelopes are very advisable if they bear more stamps of your theme than others. Registered mail covers are most desirable and are looked upon with respect.
How to prepare for participation in a stamp exhibition? Obviously your collections in stock books, no matter how beautifully arranged, cannot be displayed. For this blank or grilled lose album pages are taken and the collection is set up with proper write up concerned with the stamps or material displayed. For this write up seek for guidance through workshops. Another fine way is to visit stamp exhibitions and carefully study different collections according to the awards they win. These exhibitions offer best learning grounds for up coming philatelists.