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Starting a Stamp Collection

September 16th, 2011 Collectibles

Collecting stamps is an easy and relatively inexpensive hobby. Philately is the study of stamps and postal materials, and collectors are sometimes called philatelists. There are many different kinds of stamps, including commemorative, special and definitive varieties. They can also be found in multiple formats like sheets, booklets or coils and either have self-adhesive or conventional backs, which you have to lick before you stick.

Definitive stamps are the most common type. These usually measure about one square inch and are often printed more than once in large amounts. Commemorative stamps are bigger and more colorful, and are usually created in small numbers. These types also honor people, places and items that are important to American culture. Special stamps usually pay homage to a particular holiday and are sold for a limited time.

To start collecting, you may want to begin with what's in your very own mailbox. The best way to remove stamps from an envelope without damaging them is to soak them. Just tear the paper around the stamp and place it in a bowl of warm water with the adhesive facing down. After a few minutes, the stamp should sink to the bottom. Next, take your precious piece out and put it between two paper towels with something heavy on top so it doesn't curl. Leave it overnight and it'll be dry and ready to store in the morning.

Keep your stamps in an album or on loose leaf paper inside of a binder. Use hinges to hold them in place or mounts, which are clear plastic sleeves that offer stamps more protection. Lastly, find yourself a stamp catalog, which will allow you to figure out how much your postage is worth. Heading out to get the mail each day will soon be an exciting and highly anticipated process.