Building up a Stamp Collection
How to Avoid Common Mistakes as a Stamp Collector
Stamps in poor condition can always be obtained at fantastic bargains or huge discounts off catalog value. But most experienced collectors will advise you to always go after the best condition stamps you can. Collections are always much harder to sell at a good price if the stamps are not sound. So the “bargains” you can get on slightly defective stamps are never really bargains at all in the long run.
It takes time to cultivate an appreciation for what is and what is not a good condition stamp. Thins, cuts, tears, creases, more than one or two perfs off, stains, scuff, etc., can all ruin a stamp’s value. If the defect is noticeable on the face of the stamp, it may be impossible to trade or sell at any price, unless it is a very high catalog value item. If the defect is not noticeable on the face, it may be useful for someone as a space-filler, until a better copy can be found. These stamps can still be sold or traded if discounted enough, and you can find someone who is willing to accept less-then-perfect stamps.
Isolation: Clubs & The Philatelic Press
One of the big problems many new stamp collectors have is that they do not know other philatelists, or may not even have a stamp store or club nearby. The major philatelic periodicals are one answer to overcoming this problem, because they provide educational feature on basics of collecting, information on new issues, questions from readers and plenty of ads from people willing to exchange stamps, sell, supply stamp hinges, catalogs, albums, etc. Lots of things can be done by mail. If your local library does not subscribe to one of the major stamp publications, it may be worth investing in a subscription. For current stamp periodicals check the JPA web page listed on the front cover. Whether or not you are in contact with other collectors you may wish to consider joining a national philatelic society. The Junior Philatelists of America is run by and for young people.
Adult, non-voting, supporting memberships are also offered. The American Philatelic Society is the largest society of stamp collectors in the U. S. The American Topical Association is for those collectors who save their stamps according to the subject matter on them. There are many other organizations for collectors who specialize in certain aspects of philately — something for everyone. All offer a newsletter or magazine to help members keep in touch with each other. One of the great things about stamps is that a couple hundred can go back and forth in the mail for the same price as a first class letter, so if you can find other collectors with similar interests, exchanging through the mail is one exciting possibility.
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