You will probably meet very few people who say they have never collected anything in their life. But there are people, even when not deliberately collecting a particular object, who tend to have more than one of the same thing. It can be anything – tennis socks of different colors, brand name trainers, books by a particular author or CDs of their favorite singer.
And then there are people who deliberately collect – baseball cards, foreign-made lighters, crystal vases from Europe, vintage crochet hooks or coffee mugs from the Far East. And there’s a reason for their collection. One might say, “oh, I was in this baseball game and just watching idly.
When I turned around, I saw Mark McGwire – he had a baseball cap on and was smiling. Thought he was the cutest thing in the stadium. So I ended up collecting anything that had to do with baseball.”
Why do people collect stamps? The reasons are not any different from those cited by baseball card collectors. It defines our personalities, it’s a form of personal entertainment and enjoyment, it’s an opportunity to learn more about stamps and the countries that issue them. It provides a chance for like-minded collectors to build friendships and swap knowledge.
There are added joys to stamp collecting: it is a good way to peek into a country’s history, geography, biography and science and sports. A stamp, especially when it is beautifully designed in an attractive blend of colors sparks human curiosity.
First the colors and image attract people, and then they look closer at the stamp to see what it stands for. For instance, if someone from the Czech Republic sees a Canadian stamp with a beaver or maple leaf as a design, the person receiving the letter might be tempted to find out more about beavers or the maple tree.
Stamp collecting also satisfies our desire for order, symmetry and organization. Some people may start their stamp collecting by tucking stamps into a shoebox, but there will come a time when those pieces will need to be organized. By collecting stamps, our organizational skills become finely honed. And the aesthetic rewards can be emotionally satisfying.
Stamp collecting opens our eyes to foreign travel, and while we are not able to travel to every country on earth in our lifetime, our stamp collection will show us lands and sites that we have not yet explored, and introduce us to a country’s flora and fauna, of high powered hydroelectric dams, of cliffs and mountains that no human has dared to venture out to.
Jim Watson says that anyone who starts stamp collecting can proceed at his own pace and at his own whim, but stamp collecting – or the field of philately – is a disciplined field of study.
There are standards and rules that guide the study of philately and there is a considerable amount of literature that documents the knowledge from long-time and sophisticated stamp collectors. Research continues, and there is always new knowledge to be gained.
No one has to pay dearly for nurturing a hobby such as stamp collecting. In fact, an expensive collection does not necessarily mean that it’s the most interesting or the most valuable.
Rather, it is the way the collector has organized his collection in an interesting manner because of his knowledge and experience. Many prize-winning collections that have been declared “outstanding” in club shows often started as inexpensive endeavors.
While a few collectors of stamps have an investment objective in mind, the beauty of stamp collecting lies in the pure enjoyment of the hobby.