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How to Start a Stamp Collection

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The first thing to do is to once you have decided to become involved in collecting postage stamps - or Philately - is to select a particular area or topic for your collection.

Most of us start our collection from every country in the world. Nowadays, with so many countries producing so many stamp issues each year, forming a world collection would be a difficult task.

You may just start out collecting postage stamps from the country in which you live for two main reasons. Firstly, you already have knowledge about your own country so this is a great place to start, and secondly, the postage stamps are readily available from your local post office and mail that comes to your home.

Or course, if you have a favorite country, penpals, or if your heart is set on a particular subject, start with that!

A very popular way of collecting is to take a subject or theme of interest and build a collection around it. This is called thematic collecting. For example- you may enjoy sports and decide to make your collection based upon sports and sporting activities.

The possibilities are endless for thematic collectors - animals, butterflies, sailing ships, painters, conservation - just use your imagination and let the stamps take you there.

The other main forms of collecting postage stamps fall into the following categories:

Worldwide collections: stamps of all countries from 1840 to the present.

Geographic collections: stamps of a single country or a group of countries.

Specialized collections: usually built around the stamps of a single country but sometimes restricted to a small group of stamps or even the exhaustive study of a single issue.

Most beginning stamp collectors want to get lots and lots of stamps. One of the best ways to make a flying start is to buy a large packet of used stamps from a stamp dealer. You will also find that eBay is a great source for purchasing stamps.

Also available are smaller packets of stamps at your post office.

One of the best (and cheapest) ways to build up your collection is by asking your relatives and friends to save you the stamps from all their letters. When you ask people to save their used stamps for you, it's a good idea to ask them for the whole envelopes. That way the stamps are less likely to be damaged. If you are purchasing packets of stamps, starting with the largest possible packet size is a good idea for two reasons. First, it provides a good start with enough variety to make it interesting. Second, it avoids duplication. If you go back later and buy a second packet, particularly if it's a theme-based packet (stamp dealers also sell packets of stamps based on the more common themes such as birds, flowers, etc), you may receive many of the same stamps.

Once you have your basic starting pack of postage stamps you can have fun sorting them into countries and themes and putting your favorites into your album.

- Mrs. Nagalakshmi Tadakaluri, Philatelist.




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