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How to collect Stamps

At STAMP DEMON we will show you how to collect stamps. This is because we are keeen to promote Philately - The collecting of stamps.

It was my parents who started me off, as they bought me a Stanley Gibbons - Stamps of the World, Stamp Album. My mother thought it would be good for me to collect stamps, so that I could learn about other countries and their customs. However, there is much more to be gained from Philately, please see our page Why Collect Stamps? if you want to find out more!

I have collected postage stamps for over 25 years and although I am no expert, I will tell you how to collect stamps. The real beauty lies in the fact that there is always more to learn and as new stamps are released every year, there is always more to collect.

Depending on your age there are a various ways to start your collect. What is important though, is that you start off with the correct tools of the trade so that you can get your collection off to the best possible start. There are a few basic items of equipment that you will need:

Stamp Album - My strongest recommendation is that you buy one which is of the loose leaf format. By loose leaf, I mean one to which you can add new pages. This will mean that once you have filled your pages you can add new ones.

Stamp Hinges - These are used for sticking stamps in the album. They are pieces of paper which are gummed on one side. The idea is that you wet the hinge, stick it onto the stamp, then stick this on the stamp album page. Good quality hinges, usually have a diagram and instructions on how to apply these.

Mounts - Mounts can be used for placing all of your collection in an album. However, I would not recommend this to someone who is just starting, as it could prove expensive. Therefore, only use mounts for mint (stamps which have no post mark and are unused) stamps.

Tweezers - These are a very useful tool, but make sure you buy Philatelic ones! The ones your mum uses to pluck her eyebrows are no good, as they have points and will damage the stamps. Correct stamp tweezers have rounded ends and can be either metal or plastic. My own were made by Stanley Gibbons. Tweezers should really be used for handling stamps, as it prevents the transfer of dirt and grease from your fingertips.

Lamp - A good table lamp is crucial. It will save you straining your eyes. It will also help if you are working on your collection at night. For best results I would recommend a daylight or halogen angle-poise lamp.

Magnifying Glass - This final piece of equipment although not obvious, is very important. Stamps in general are quite small, therefore magnifying them makes them easier to read. It also helps you determine whether a stamp is damaged or in some cases, if a stamp is mint or used.

Having assembled your equipment let's start collecting!

The next decision is what do you collect? Well, the simplest way is to collect your own country. You will receive letters every day, so these can be added to your album. However, there is a problem - How do you get them off the envelopes? This is surprisingly easy - cold water!(Cold water helps to avoid damaging the stamps)

Stamps should be cut off the envelope leaving a little paper all round the stamp, be careful not to cut the stamp. Fill a bowl with cold water, nothing else. Place the stamps face down in the water and push them under the water, so that all of the paper and stamp is wet.

After a few minutes, the stamp will peel off the paper. Remove the stamp, place it to dry face down and flat on some kitchen roll. Once the stamp is dry, place it in your album. Don't worry if it is slightly curved as it will flatten in your album, as you open and close it when adding more stamps.

N.B. Some older stamps should not be soaked. This is because the colours on some older stamps, such as GB Victorian, will run if they are placed in water. Also stamps on coloured envelopes should be soaked in isolation, as sometimes the colour will run and dye the stamp - it's better to dye one, than a dozen!

The next thing to do is tell family and friends that you collect stamps. Get them to send you post cards from different places they visit. Before you know it your collection will soon start to grow.

Once you have started your collection of stamps from your own country or around the world. You can specialise at a later date. The most important thing is to enjoy your stamp collecting and the stamp collection itself. Even after over 25 years of collecting I still get a buzz out of finding a stamp I haven't got!

We sell a variety of stamps at STAMP DEMON Stamp shop. If you would like to have a look you are welcome, if not no problem!!