By: Francesca Fiori
For over a century and a half, the study and collection of stamps has become a much-enjoyed hobby around the world. It is fairly easy to get started and can provide a lifetime of learning and fun. Before getting started, it is important to know the differences between stamp collecting and philately. Philately consists of studying stamps as well as other objects related to postal history. A philatelist does not need to collect stamps in order to study them. On the other hand, stamp collecting involves amassing a collection of stamps and other similar postal objects, such as postal stationery. Although the two are considered separate hobbies, many stamp collectors naturally fall into philately in the course of their research, and vice versa. Stamp collecting and philately first began in the mid to late 1800s when postage stamps came into use. Since they were a novelty item at the time, it was not uncommon for people, especially children, to start special albums that showed off their collected stamps. Even today, we have over 20 million American stamp collectors in our country.
One of the most fascinating features that appeals to stamp collectors is the history behind each piece. The image on a stamp, the watermarks, and perforations can all be small clues to a philatelist or stamp collector. To get started, only a few basic tools are required. This includes special albums to keep the stamps well-protected, as well as a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers. Many collectors also like to maintain a log or database to keep track of which stamps they have in their collection. In this way, they can easily identify which stamps they need to find to complete a certain series. While there is no single correct way to organize a stamp collection, some of the most popular ways are chronological and thematic. Thematic can be quite varied; collectors can organize the collection by country, animals, sports, postmarks, rarity and so on. New collectors usually get started by simply inquiring with friends or family members if they could pass on any stamps that they happen to have lying around. From this level, collectors can become more serious and seek out older and rarer stamps.
Stamp collecting and philately have grown so much in the past century that there are museums and libraries dedicated to it, as well as regional clubs, organizations and trade shows! Over the years, more and more albums can be started as the stamp collection starts to grow. There are numerous avenues for finding additional information and help for philately or stamp collecting. This can be in the form of online discussion groups, local experts, historians, appraisers and stamp dealers. Explore the following resources to learn more about how adults and kids can get started in the wonderful world of stamp collecting and philately!
Stamp Collecting and Philately for Kids