For some people, postage stamps are nothing more than a payment method to get their mail from Point A to Point B. For others, it can be a lifelong collection obsession. Those minuscule-designed payment plans that sit in the top right-hand corner of the envelope can bring indescribable joy to the most avid collectors.
Unless you're a hardcore philatelic fanatic who spends a fortune on Ebay sourcing rare and valuable stamps, stamp collecting is an inexpensive and extremely accessible hobby to pursue for people of all ages.
Materials Postage stamps
Stamp album (from a post office) or 3- or 4-ring binder
Hagner stamp storage sheets. These come in a variety of styles (two-strip and up) and brands, so shop around
Dividers (if you want to separate your stamps into categories)
In order to have any sort of collection, you firstly need to know what you want to collect. There are thousands of stamps out there, from all over the world, so you need to decide if you want to collect everything you can get your hands on, or if you would like to specialize in anything in particular. Some people prefer to collect stamps only from their own country, as they are the most readily available to them.
Other collectors prefer to source stamps internationally, collecting as they travel through different countries or as they receive mail from family and friends.
There are some collectors who even specialize in particular categories. For example, they may only collect stamps that feature Christmas designs, or ones that have animals on them, regardless of the country that they come from.
Many serious collectors invest in a stamp catalogue so that they can keep an inventory of their collection. There are a variety of stamp catalogues available to purchase in stores and online, but they all feature similar information. They usually have a picture of each stamp in the book, as well as the year it was distributed, the 'title' it was released under (for example, the Queen's Jubilee) and current estimates of the stamps' worth. There is often a checking box next to each entry so that collectors can mark whether they have the stamp in their collection or not. It's not neccessary to have a stamp catalogue, but for some people with large collections (who are very serious about their hobby) it is a worthwhile addition.
Some people who collect stamps also collect first day covers, booklets and stamp sets which have a limited release when the stamps are first introduced into the public. These are available from the post office and usually commemorate an event or newly issued design. They usually feature the stamps, as well as information about them, set out in attractive packaging.
Once you've decided what kind of stamps you want to collect, it's as simple as cutting them off the corner of your mail and storing them in an album. You can buy special storage sheets called Hagners, which have plastic strips on them that you place the stamps behind for easy display. These easily fit in a binder, or a stamp album if you're lucky enough to come across one (they're becoming a bit of a rarity). Some people also use dividers to separate their stamps into categories (such as the release year, for example) but this is optional. It's your collection, so you can set it out in whichever way you want.
My father had an art shop in the city, & would get orders from o/s, of art postcards, reproductions, art books, etc, & my father would give me all the stamps from all the parcels. When I was about 11, our parents gave us all a lovely stamp album each for Christmas. My siblings didn't last 2 long with their stamp collections, & as I continued with mine, they gave me their albums. A friend later gave me her album, & a guy where I was working once, gave me his stamps. It was in the days of stamp hingers!! I still collect stamps, (now in my late 60's) but I never put them into the albums anymore! "Why not" ? You may ask. "Because I'm too lazy!"
I used to collect stamps when I was younger, and even started a stamp collecting club at my school. When I first started I put a note in the classifieds section of the newspaper saying I was an 8-year-old collecting stamps and I had heaps of people sending me envelopes filled with stamps.