Getting Started 3

Building up a Stamp Collection

Getting Started in Stamp Collecting


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The basic stamp collecting tools you will need are the album and hinges or mounts for affixing the stamps. Those have already been discussed. There are two other tools that the stamp collector considers essential.

Stamp tongs are used for handling stamps without damaging them or getting them dirty. Although they look like tweezers, they are not. Stamp tongs have special rounded ends and will not pierce or damage a stamp. Although y our hands should be clean when handling stamps, use the tongs to handle the stamps. Oils on your fingers can damage stamps.

Another “must have” for the collector is a price guide or catalogue of some sort. The Harris Brookman catalogs of United Stamps stamps are popular, inexpensive price guides. The Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue is a good source for finding out about the world’s stamps. Although current editions are too expensive for beginning collectors to consider purchasing, they can be found at most public libraries. Also Stanley Gibbons produce the ‘Stamps of the World’ Catalogue – which is now in four volumes. Once again you might find these in most public libraries.

There are two catalogs for the space stamp collector – ‘Conquete De L’espace’ by Lollini and ‘Weebau’ by Pierre Bauduin. By clicking the links you will be able to find out more. 

As you become more familiar with your stamps, a few other tools can be added to your equipment. Once beyond the basics, all stamp collectors need a perforation gauge, watermark fluid and tray, and colour guide. Again, a stamp dealer or an experienced collector will be able to help you in learning the proper use of these tools.


Stamp collecting can be more fun if you find others who collect stamps. Ask your friends, perhaps they are collectors themselves, or know someone who is. Check at your school to see if they have a stamp club. If no stamp club exists, speak to your teacher or principal. Perhaps they would be willing to help organize one. They can do so by requesting free support materials from your local postmaster.

Frequently, larger populated areas will have either a city or county stamp club. Inquire at the library, post office, stamp store, or of your collecting friends to see if they know of a stamp club in your area. Stamp clubs are a fun way to meet new collectors, obtain new stamps, and learn more about the hobby.

Find a penpal from a foreign country, preferably one who collects stamps. You would gain much knowledge about the culture, history and geography of another country. You might even trade stamps through the mail. At the very least, you will get their country’s stamps on your mail. Be sure to use commemorative stamps on the mail to your penpal.

Join a stamp collecting organization. There are many groups, perhaps some that even specialize in a collecting area that you are interested in.

Many stamp collecting groups sponsor stamp shows, which can vary from an afternoon “bourse” which features several dealers from the area to three or four day exhibitions which include displays by other collectors. Many of these exhibitions include special areas for young people to learn more about the hobby and add new stamps to their collections for free or at a reduced cost. You can find out about these shows in stamp collector publications, in your local papers, or from stamp stores in your area. Try to attend the next show in your area!


Stamp Collectors who have the most fun with their stamps are the ones who learn the most about their hobby. Reading available literature will help to make your collecting experiences even more fun.

Next time you go to the library, check the card catalog under the subject “Stamps” or “Stamp Collecting.” Check out the books. See if the library has any stamp collecting newspapers or magazines. Many of the stamp collecting newspapers or magazines will send you a copy free or at a nominal charge.

A trip to your local stamp dealer or stamp show will also help you find a few basic books about stamp collecting. Next time you are browsing in a book store, check to see what stamp collecting books are available.

Many National philatelic organizations and their special study groups have newsletters, magazines, and books to help you in learning more about stamp collecting. There are a lot of books about stamps — enough to fill a library for stamp collectors!

Stamp Collecting is fun — but finding someone to share the hobby with and reading about philately will pave the way to ensuring your hobby will last a lifetime!

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© Junior Philatelists of America

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