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How to Get Started in Stamp Collecting

Here I give you the basics on starting a collection and I also give you some nice tips on how to make your collection unique, how to keep it very inexpensive and more.


Stamp collecting

If you have no idea what you want to do I will give you a few suggestions.

There are some broad categories that you can follow:

Collect world wide stamps - There are some wonderful benefits to this. Some countries put out absolutely beautiful stamps. Or maybe you have a heritage and you want to collect stamps from that country. Both wonderful ideas.

Collect United States Stamps - For the most part this is what I collect. One of the benefits of this is the accessibility of the stamps. You can put together a very comprehensive collection because there is an avid collector base for US stamps.

Collect Used stamps - This is an economical way to get a great collection together. A couple of big benefits are the price and the accessibility. One of the downfalls is the postmark. It usually detracts from the visual appeal of the stamps.

Collect Mint stamps - These are in near perfect condition and have never been post marked. This is more expensive but makes for a more valuable collection. The stamps, because they are unmarked, are of course much nicer looking.

Collect First Day Covers

A first day cover

This is a bit different than just plains stamps. They are stamps that have been post marked the very first day they were issued, usually with a very special postmark to commemorate the event. And the envelope they are on is also usually adorned with special images or graphics that accentuate the stamp.


Collect plate blocks

A plate block of stamps

This is an interesting varation on stamp collecting. A plate block is a series of four or more stamps still attached to each other and with some of the outer border still attached. That outer border, called selvage, usually has identifying numbers on it.

Collect Topicals

Topical stamps

- This is one of my favorite ways to collect stamps. Topicals means that you collect stamps in a certain topic. For example, I love castles so I collect stamps that commemorate castles. That is the topic. There are lots and lots of topics and if you have something you are particularly passionate about you might want to consider collecting stamps about it!

Castle stamp collection in an album

I keep my Castle Stamp collection in something called a stockbook.

Ok! WE have covered a bit about the specifics of the stamps but how do you actually get started!!!

Soaking stamps

If you want to start without spending any money you can get lots of stamps by soaking them off of envelopes. Ask family and friends to save letters and mail with post marked stamps on them. Then you can soak them off and start your collection. I have a tutorial on how to do this right here: How to soak stamps off envelopes

Another very inexpensive way to start, or great for kids to get started with a US collection. Mystic Stamp company is the #1 company and is very well respected. They have this nice beginner US kit wit an album, hinges and they throw in 100 US stamps. Great to get if you are unsure about Stamp collecting but still want to give it a try without spending too much.


Join a club!

In the city I live in there is a stamp club that meets once a month. I have joined the club and have found it a great way to learn more about stamp collecting and talk about stamp collecting! It has been an invaluable resource for me.

Check out online resources: You can often pick up collections of stamps pretty cheap through various online sources like craigslist and ebay. It is definitely worth checking into.

Stamp collecting starter kit

U.S. Stamp Collecting Starter Kit - Includes Album and Free Stamps

IF you want to go a little more in you might consider this three volume set. This is the exact package that I bought and I use now. It is all about every US stamp!

Mystic stamp album

Mystic's 3-volume American Heirloom Stamp Album with 200 Free U.S. Stamps and 1,000 Hinges

Order the 3-volume American Heirloom Stamp Album today and receive 200 postally used U.S. stamps and 1,000 stamp hinges for FREE! You get a nice sampling of U.S. postal history and an album to display it in for under $40. Here's why the American Heirloom is Mystic's bestselling U.S. stamp album - and ideal for collectors of nearly all experience levels. (Young collectors might consider Mystic's U.S. Stamp Collecting Starter Kit.


A stockbook

Get a stock book. If you want to collect topicals or just want some kind of a blank album for your stamps Lighthouse makes a lot of wonderful stock books for this. This is also something you are going to use for duplicate stamps.

Lighthouse Hardcover Stamp Album Stockbook With 32 Black Pages, Blue, LS4/16

A lighthouse stockbook

Here is an inside view of the Lighthouse Stockbook.

You also might want to get a book on stamp collecting.


Book about stamps

The Complete Guide to Stamps & Stamp Collecting: The ultimate illustrated reference to over 3000 of the world's best stamps, and a professional guide ... and perfecting a spectacular collection

Starting without spending anything! Hey! Even though we have email you must certainly still get regular mail! Well, many of those envelopes will have stamps on them. So.... Cut around the stamps and soak them in warm water for about 15 minutes and they will separate from the envelope. There you go! You have started your stamp collection! I will be writing more about this technique in an upcoming article.

Stamps on an envelope


The Doing it!

A stamp hinge

A lot of the hobby of stamp collecting is about arranging and organizing stamps into an album. But how do you do this? There are a few different ways. The easiest, fastest and cheapest way to do it is with something called stamp hinges. They are little glued cellophane hinges. You wet one and stick it to the back of the stamp. Then you stick it into an album. This picture shows a stamp hinge.

A hinged stamp

The hinge has been attached to the back of a stamp. You very lightly wet the small length of the hinge and attach it to the back of the stamp at the top.

Lift the stamp with a hinge

Then you wet the long part of the hinge and stick it into your book. Now it will hinge. This means you can gently lift it to see the back of the stamp or to see the picture in the album.

About Stamp Hinges - They affect the stamp in a small way. They leave a residue on the stamp or they remove some of the glue from mint stamps. So... hinges are a wonderful and inexpensive way to get started in collecting. But if you want to improve your collection. Or if you inted on growing the value of your collection you should switch to something called stamp mounts.

Stamp Mounts:

A stamp in a mount

A stamp mount is a wonderful way to display yet perfectly preserve the integrity of a stamp. It is a small sleeve like item that you glue into an album then slide the stamp into. This picture shows a stamp in a mount.

Lifting a stamp in a mount

This picture shows a stamp mount in action. The top half of the mount has been glued into the album. Now you can lift the mount and slide the stamp into it.

Mounts come in every size needed for stamps.

Four mount sizeds


But they can get rather expensive. You can bring down the cost of mounts by buying strips of them and cutting them yourself. This picture shows a package of stamp mount strips.


Stamp mounts



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