A wise friend of the family once told me "Collecting is great for kids." And despite its apparent decline as hobby for young people, it still is a great way to combine geography, armchair travel, history, and own's one personal view of world into a single pastime. My childhood stamp collection was lost in the Northridge earthquake of 1994. I sure would have loved to share it with my kids.
"The word 'philatelist' means a person who practices philately or stamp collecting. It comes from the French word 'philatelie', which was derived from the Greek words 'philos', meaning loving, and 'atelia', meaning exemption from tax (which also came to mean 'postage is prepaid.')." The American Philatelic Society is the largest, nonprofit organization in the world for stamp collectors, and its kids section is my pick of the day. Visit for beginners help, and fun game and activity pages.
Linn's online edition is a worthy companion to the printed news weekly, but many of the sections require free registration. In addition to timely news features and an interactive stamp quiz, Linn's offers advice to beginners in its Reference and How To sections. Articles include introductions to Postmarks, Stamp Albums, and Stamp Care and Handling, along with handy reference material such a Glossary of Philatelic Terms, a list of World Wide Stamp Issuing Entities, and a Foreign Currency Guide.
The Mystery Box combines philately, geography, history and travel into a unique "collection of mystery stories springing from the evocative images of postage stamps and their curious histories." The stories range from fiction to real-life unsolved mysteries. My favorite clicks were the mini-quizzes on Stamp Whys. "Can you find the image hidden in these stamps? Examine the four stamps carefully. When taken as a group, there is an image hidden within. What is that image?"
The layout is a bit confusing and scattered, but Frank Mardle, a British stamp collector, has created a site with lots of information for new collectors. Best clicks are found in the first "envelope" titled Stamp Collecting Information. Here you'll find advice on how to start your collection, how to soak stamps off paper, and how stamps are printed. There are also links to pages that list stamp shows coming to a town near you.
"The Virtual Stamp Club was chartered in 1995 as the first electronic chapter of the American Philatelic Society .... Membership requirements are simple: Show up! That's all there is to it: No dues, no applications, no oaths, no secret handshakes." When you do show up, you'll be treated to lots of stamps news ("Ten stamps will highlight comic book super heroes like Superman and Batman but there will also be stamps for bats-men -- baseball sluggers."), a calendar of stamp events and features on stamp collecting. In order to participate in the online discussions, you will need to register as a Delphi Forums user.