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Thank goodness, stamp collecting is not as expensive a hockey or skiing, where the tools and materials required cost thousands of dollars. Hockey or ski clothes are very expensive.
Stamp collecting is what we’d call a “financially comfortable” hobby. Unless you join the big leagues and treat it as an investment, practicing the hobby shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.
At some point in time as you progress in your stamp collecting, you’ll have to fish out your stamps from that old shoe box under your bed so you can mount them on a stamp album. Like a photo album, stamp albums are a means of storing your stamps safely and to organize them in any way you want.
A good quality stamp album must have plenty of space for a growing collection, and have strong binding that won’t separate the album sheets easily. Each page must be sufficiently thick with acid free paper.
Stamp albums are specialized and you will find a wide variety of albums being sold by retailers. Through their experience and conversations with collectors, manufacturers understand the important features of an album. Some examples of stamp albums include:
A good beginner’s album especially made for collectors of US stamps.
Scott’s Basic Album
For collectors of Canadian stamps.
Scott National Album (loose leaf)
This is the industry standard for specialist collectors of US stamps.
H.E. Harris Statesman Album Kit
This is an ideal starter kit for collectors of stamps from all over the world.
Essential tools are stamp catalogs. Catalogs are excellent references for knowing the present value of stamps, and provide information on how to identify them and collect them properly. If you’re not prepared to invest in a stamp catalog, your local library carries them. Some catalogs come in about five or six albums.
If you want to examine the printed pattern that was embossed on the stamp, you can use a watermark detector. Not all stamps have watermarks but identical stamps, for example, may have different watermarks. Watermarks can help detect forgeries and can assist in identifying stamp varieties.
If you handle stamps with your bare hands, you could be leaving dirty finger prints on the stamp, thus decreasing their worth. To avoid this, you will use stamp tongs (tweezer-like instruments that are used for handling stamps.
If your collection has been assessed with a high value, the last thing you want to do is NOT use tongs!
Collectors may choose from either stainless steel or plastic tongs.
They’re about 3 to 5 inches long; good sets can be purchased for $5.00 to $15.00, but there are high-end models that sell for considerably more.
Stamp collectors turned experts also use a very special tong with very pointed tips so that only a miniscule portion of the stamp is touched.
Many stamps are so tiny you can’t even see the letters on them. And your eyesight is not exactly that of an eagle’s. A magnifier should solve this problem.
A magnifier will enable you to see details that you might otherwise not have noticed or merely to help you examine its characteristics, as well as its conditions.
Stamps have one of the more beautiful colors ever produced by man. There are publications, appropriately called Color Guides that can assist collectors in identifying the various colors used by stamp manufacturers around the world.
As we mentioned earlier, perforations differ in size and type. A perforation gauge helps collectors separate stamps on a sheet and helps in identifying which stamp is which. While stamps may look identical, they may have a different perforation.
Before mounting stamps on an album, you need to store them somewhere safe. This is the purpose that glassine envelopes serve. They are thin, transparent envelopes and come in various sizes.
Before they’re ready for being put in albums, stamps need to be sorted by theme or by country, and these envelopes are ideal for that task. You can also use glassine envelopes to mail stamps to a relative or friend.
When someone sends you stamps that are still on envelopes, you can remove the stamps with the use of stamp-lifting fluids. These substances are used to “lift” stamps off from various forms of paper without damaging them. They are used when using water will not achieve the desired lifting.
Hinges/Safe Vinyl Mounts
When you’re ready to mount your valuable stamps on an album, you will need hinges or safe vinyl stamp mounts. These hinges are sold already pre-folded to make a collector’s life easier.
The smaller segment is moistened and then pressed into the center of the stamp, upper portion, after which the larger segment is also moistened, and then the stamp is mounted.
Care must be taken in moistening as the gum on a mint stamp may stick to the album page as well, thus making it difficult to remove the stamp later.
Making your collection into an intelligent collection requires literature that you can refer to. Hence, stamp periodicals and newsletters and magazines will open doors for you as you want to expand or branch into another field of stamp collecting.
It’s not just a question of showing your stamp collection to friends with pride, it’s being able to talk about a portion of your collection in a very enlightening and educational manner. Reading about the latest developments in philately will make you appreciate the hobby at a higher level.
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