Philately is the name for the hobby. Collecting postage stamps as a hobby has been around as long as stamps themselves. People have been doing it ever since they were introduced in the United Kingdom in 1840.
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If you’re new to it, you may want to start by collecting ones that appeal to you. That might mean designs of a specific country, a particular color, those with a similar subject (such as birds, flowers or landmarks), ones featuring a specific person or type of person (for example, Elvis Presley or famous women), those a specific denomination (for example, two-cent stamps), those of a particular type (for example, air mail), ones with a specific theme (for example, music or travel), or those that celebrate a particular holiday or event (for example, Christmas or coronations).
This can be an economical hobby. Just save the stamps from letters and packages you receive. Tell friends and family members you are collecting and ask them to save them for you. Then decide how you want to store or display your collection. Stores that specialize in collecting, hobby stores and scrapbook stores all have albums and materials that are good for this hobby.
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If you decide on new or valuable ones, you will want to give them special handling. Special plastic strips called “hinges” can be used in albums to display them without damaging them. Clear plastic sleeves or glassine envelopes can also be used.
When you first start, you can simply cut them out, or save the whole envelope they come on. As you get more serious, you may want to carefully remove them from the envelopes. If you put the whole envelope, or the piece of it that surrounds the stamp, into a tray or bowl of warm water, the adhesive will dissolve and the stamps will float to the bottom. Remove the stamp from the water with tweezers or tongs and let dry. To keep them from curling up as they dry, put something heavy on top. Make sure that the back is not resting on anything made of paper, in case all the adhesive did not dissolve, or you’ll have to do it all over again.
Collecting postage stamps is a wonderful hobby for anyone, but it is especially educational for children. It can help get children interested in history and other countries.
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