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Stamp Collecting Joys
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.1
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.2
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.
Think how much more there is to be gained if you just sat back and curled up on your sofa to admire your collection, or else show to friends and family. If you consider your collection to be a financial investment, then you’ll need to familiarize yourself with evaluating the value of your collection, learning about stamp auctions, and finding the right dealers.
Making money out of one’s collection is a fundamental right, but think of the many other possibilities open to you if you didn’t limit yourself to profit motive.
Stamp collecting is about 140 years old. It all started when England issued its first stamp on May 6, 1840. There’s a funny story about one of the earliest efforts at stamp collecting. A woman put an ad in a British paper looking for all kinds of used stamps so she could wallpaper her room.3
The real fun started, however, when post offices realized that stamp collectors can be a huge source of revenue.
Given the production of numerous stamps in a given year, people branched out to “motif” collecting, instead of confining themselves to “country” collecting. A few collectors have even embarked on collecting stamps to tell a story, or focus on a famous person’s biography, but this would entail an enormous amount of research.4
The joys of stamp collecting are reinforced because it is not an expensive hobby. In the first few months, collectors don’t have to invest a cent, except ask for used stamps from friends and family and fellow office workers.
People who were once collectors and who gave up the hobby would be pleased to give their collections away with the hope that it can be continued by the person taking over.
They have felt the joys of stamp collecting once so they would be only too eager to help out a beginning collector.
Stamp collectors will also find plenty of support from local stamp clubs, their neighborhood post office and the World Wide Web. Stamp collecting is a widely-discussed subject on cyberspace, and the beginner will be pleased to discover how many resources are available to him.
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