Helping Young Stamp Collectors to get Started

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So, What's Cool about Stamp Collecting?

"Beam me up Mr Spock ..."
Star Trek stamp.

You can collect what you want, how you want, when you want. You can collect a subject, such as animals, sport or flowers, or you can collect a country or group of countries.

By studying stamps you will find out more about the things that interest you - whether it's football, dinosaurs, national costumes, horses, space-exploration, film stars or pop music. And you can collect the stamps that show what interests you. Every subject you can think of has been shown on a stamp at some time - the challenge is to find it!


Stamps come in all shapes and sizes including triangular, circular
and diamond. You can make an interesting collection of the
strange shapes in which stamps are printed.

Triangular stamp 
from Latvia.

Triangular stamp from Latvia
Circular stamp 
from New Zealand.

Circular stamp from New Zealand

Animals on stamps is a popular theme. You can collect a stamp zoo ...

American bobcat stamp.

... but don't tangle with this guy - the American bobcat.

Some collectors even collect just one stamp, collecting different printings and varieties that occur on it. If you're just starting as a collector we suggest you pick a country or subject that interests you and collect just stamps of that country or subject.

Subject collecting is called Thematic collecting because you are collecting stamps on a theme. In America they call it 'Topical' collecting. The subjects you can collect are endless, and you can pick any subject that interests you.

We know a collector who has picked 'horses' as a theme. His collection shows many different types of horses, how they are cared for and groomed, the types of work they do - pulling ploughs and stagecoaches, working down mines, and of course carrying mail. He also has stamps showing horse racing and horses in Olympic sports.

When you stop and think about a subject, you can form an interesting collection about anything.

Moon landing stamp.
Space is a popular theme.
This stamp commemorates
the first landing on the Moon.

Some collectors (called postal historians) study the way in which postal services are run and the routes used to transport the mail. They study the postmarks and postal markings found on letters. This can be a very interesting part of the hobby, but you need a good deal of philatelic knowledge to enter the area of postal history, and we recommend all collectors start off by collecting stamps. But always examine any covers (that's what stamp collectors call complete envelopes) for any unusual postal markings, and keep any that look interesting intact until you can ask an experienced collector if it is worth keeping it as a complete cover.


Stamps and covers can bring history alive. This cover was carried
by Wells, Fargo & Co over their Virginia City Pony Express
route in the early 1860's. Such covers are scarce and
command high prices. The stamp taken off the cover is only
worth a fraction of the cover with the stamp on it. Before
removing any stamp from its cover stop and think if it is
worth saving the whole cover.

Letter carried by 
the Pony Express.

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