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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.
How to Avoid Common Beginning Mistakes
“The first rule of stamp collecting is: If you collect for fun, you will have lots of it. But if you collect for profit you will have very little profit or fun.” This list of ten mistakes to avoid, published by the Junior Philatelists of America, covers all the basics. Mistake number eight says “Some stamps should not be soaked without consulting a more knowledgeable philatelist. Anything on an original cover that is more then 20 or 30 years old might be worth saving.” I suffered through this mistake as a young collector when a neighborhood friend soaked my collection of hand-me-down European stamps off their original pre-World War II envelopes. Urghh!
Linn’s Stamp News
Linn’s online edition is a worthy companion to the printed news weekly. In addition to timely news features (such as the July 7th U.S. release of the Legends of Baseball stamps), Linn’s offers advice to beginners in its Collecting Basics section (look for it under Reference in the left-hand column menu.) Essays include introductions to Postmarks, Stamp Albums, and Stamp Care and Handling. Additional handy reference material includes 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?”
“Here you can identify your weird stamps and at the same time help other people out.” Do you have a stamp in your collection that has you completely stumped? Want to know where it’s from and how old it is? Now you can harness the knowledge of collectors worldwide by scanning your weird stamp and emailing either Casper (in Holland) or Stefano (in Italy). As of this writing, they they have published answers to 440 queries. I enjoyed perusing this odd collection of old stamps, and I think you will too.
Virtual Stamp Club
“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 (“The Vatican has honored the Pontiff with a set of stamps for his 80th birthday.”), 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.