They’re like tiny pictures you can get for just a few cents or nothing at all. Stamps are wonderful items to collect, and beginning a decent collection doesn’t take a huge investment. You can start with just a short trip outside to your mailbox. That’s right! Your first set of stamps can be had for free just by picking up your mail.
If you’re lucky enough to have friends and relatives who send communications, especially birthday cards and wedding invitations, through regular “snail” mail, then the chances are pretty good that you’ll find your first few stamps on these envelopes. Simply cut out the stamp from the corner, leaving, at best, an inch or so all around. Then take the stamp and let I soak face-down in a bowl of warm water. You don’t want to leave it in too long because the stamp will start to curl when it dries. What you want to do is leave the stamp in the water long enough for its adhesive to soak away. When you think it’s done, pull the stamp out from the water and gently separate it from the envelope paper.
Some collectors will suggest that you handle the stamp from this point on with a good pair of tweezers. Lei the stamp between two napkins or paper towels and place something flat and heavy, like a dictionary or telephone book, over it to keep it flat. When it’s dry, handle the stamp with your tweezers and place it in a protective book.
Many people save their collectible stamps in different ways. Some people will affix stamps directly onto a page in a souvenir/collectors book. This method is least preferred, however, because it doesn’t allow you to trade your stamps with others or sell them very easily. Rearranging affixed stamps also becomes difficult, though not impossible. By following the same process for removing stamps from an envelope, affixed stamps can be removed from pages in a book. You will want to limit your handling of your collected stamps, though, because too much handling could lead to a decrease in value.
The alternate, and more preferred, method of keeping collected stamps is to place them in plastic pages with inserts made especially for holding stamps. The United States Postal Service offers a wide variety of insert sizes to choose from, but you may also consider a visit to your local hobby shop for less expensive choices.
But what do you do if you don’t want to affix your stamps in a book and you can’t buy plastic pages? Get creative!
1) Try using plastic baseball card holder pages. You can fit two or three stamps in one slot (though they may slide around) or just put one stamp in each..
2) Wrap each stamp in plastic wrap and then place them in a sealable sandwich bag. Store the stamps flat in the bag and keep them safe by sandwiching them between tow heavy books.
3) Make up your own solution! Just be sure to find some way that keeps the stamps flat and free for you to look at without handling them too much.
Now that you’ve decided on how you’ll store your stamps, you’ll want to be sure you can enjoy them. From the start you can simply view your stamps with the naked eye. Most beginners quickly move beyond that step to viewing their collection with the aid of a magnifying glass. Pricing for magnifying glasses vary depending on the type and level of magnification desired. A mid-range hand-held magnifying glass may be your best option at the start.
Collecting stamps is a wonderful hobby for individuals of nearly any age. So take a trip to your mailbox and start your collection today.