How can I show my stamps to others?

If you are proud of your stamps, so why not show them to more than just your friends.

You can enter various competitions, and win prizes.

If you are part of a stamp group, you might hold a competition among yourselves.

Otherwise, you might like to enter the Stamp Active Stamp Competition, held each year in the late Summer. Those who enter have their stamps shown at a public exhibition, Autumn Stampex held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London.


Prize winners at the Stamp Active Stamp Competition receiving their certificates and cups

elvis_2 sol2d

How can I meet other stamp collectors?

You may be amazed to discover that many of your friends are also interested in stamps.

meeting other stamp collectorsIs there a stamp group in your school or locally?

If not, why not suggest to a teacher that it would be good to have a stamp group meeting at school, in the lunch break or after school.

Help is available to start a group.

Or why not come along to a stamp exhibition or stamp fair. Many have a section devoted to the young collector.

There is no doubt, sharing your hobby with others increases the fun.

shrek stamp

Stamp information

What is used and unused?

used and unused stampsWhen a stamp is as bought over a post office counter, and has never been on a letter, it is known as unused (if it has all its gum, it is called mint).

Once a stamp has been on an envelope, and a postmark applied, then the stamp is said to be used.

What are perforations?

perforation gauge StampsThe tiny holes around the edge of a stamp, intended to help tear stamps apart, are called the perforations. You may be surprised to learn that different sized holes are used, and stamp collectors measure the size by counting the number of holes in a length of 2cm.

There are gauges available which help you to measure the size of the perforations. Often two stamps can look identical, but can differ in the size of their perforations.

What is a watermark?

Watermark on stampVery often in the past stamps were printed on paper which contained a design which could only be seen when the paper was held up to the light. If you take a banknote, and hold it up, you will see a watermark. Today far fewer stamps have watermarks.

How are stamps printed?

lith-gravure-stampMany different processes are used, but most stamps these days are printed by a process called lithography.

However, many stamps from the British Post Office are printed in photogravure.

The stamp on the left is printed lithographically, the one on the right by photogravure – notice how much crisper lithography which is why old stamps look so good, despite being printed perhaps 150 years ago.


What is a stamp catalogue?

Stamp catalogues are listings of all the stamps issued around the world since the very first stamp in 1840.

Stamp CatalogueCatalogues are produced with a wide range of collectors in mind. Some provide an extremely useful basic listing of the stamps, well illustrated, often in colour. Others go into far more detail, and are really only helpful to those who have been collecting for some time.

While many stamp catalogues list the stamps under the name of the country of issue, some are produced for thematic collectors.

Stamp catalogues show you what stamps have been issued, and provide much information about the stamps.

Stamp Catalogue Tips

What does the catalogue tell me?

A stamp catalogue can give you lots of information, some of which you may not need.

First, it will describe the designs of stamps. This is very useful if you are looking for stamps for your own theme. It also helps you write a short description on your album pages.

Do note that not all the stamp designs are illustrated, so you need to check through the written descriptions.

The reason the stamps were issued will be given, and the date on which they were first released.

It will tell you who designed the stamps, and who printed them and the method of printing.

You will find about the watermark and perforations.

And also the face value of the stamp, (that is how much is cost to buy at the time) plus any variations that might have appeared.

There will also be a price for both unused and used stamps. However, do note that these are the prices charged if you buy the stamps from the dealer who produced the catalogue. You can often buy them cheaper: they are certainly not what you would get if you sold your stamps.

Developing a stamp collection

You will have far more fun with your collection if you arrange it in a proper order.

If you collect the stamps of just one country, very often the stamps are put in the date order in which they were first issued.

However, if you collect a theme, you can tell a story with your stamps. You must work out your story carefully before you start mounting your stamps, and adding any descriptions.

An example – if you collect animals, you could take a world tour, say a Continent at a time, showing the animals found in each country.

If you collect a sport, you could show the history of the sport, followed by the way in which it is played, and follow up with any major competitions.


How do I put my stamps in an album?

First of all, you must never use glue, or sticky tape, or any other pieces of sticky paper.

no_tape_or_glue_stampYou can buy special stamp hinges. These are small pieces of specially gummed paper. You fold your hinge roughly one third along its length. Gently moisten the shorter piece, and place it on the back of your stamp, just under the top perforations. Now gently moisten a little part of the rest of the hinge, and fix this to your stamp album page. Using stamp tweezers, you can carefully position your stamp.

You can buy special ‘plastic’ stamp mounts. These are little pockets with a clear front, and either a black or clear backing. They keep your stamps safe and clean, but are quite expensive. Unless you have very special stamps you want to protect, stamp hinges will be fine.


Making your stamps more interesting

You can add to the interest of your stamps, both for yourself and for others who see your stamps. You can write some information about your stamps on your stamp album pages.

For example, if you collect animals on stamps, you can write the name of the animal under each stamp, and perhaps the name of the country where it is found.

interesting stamps

What about stamp albums?

stamp_albumsMany stamp albums are designed to hold the stamps of just one country or region. Countries that have issued many stamps, such as Great Britain, may even require more than one album to hold all the pages needed to accommodate each stamp.

The spaces on album pages sometimes include images of the stamps that fit in the space. Some album pages provide catalogue numbers along with the illustration to further help the collector identify the proper stamp.

Although hundreds of different album styles are available, some collectors prefer to design their own page layouts using blank pages. Matching stock pages, with rows of transparent sleeves that hold many stamps, are also available in some cases.

Some collectors choose not to use preprinted pages, and create their own albums using blank paper and standard notebook binders or a computer. This method is fine if the collector uses high-quality materials. Some plastic coated binders may include chemicals that can damage stamps if they come into contact with them. Paper that is not of archival quality may discolor, and this chemical change can affect stamps as well.

Most dealers will sell stamp albums, supplement pages, binders and other stamp collecting supplies and there are specialist shops that just sell collector materials

How do I keep my stamps?

You can use a stamp album. Some albums have pages with the names of countries printed at the top. These are fine if you have decided that you want to collect stamps from as many countries around the world as possible.

They are useful when you start collecting, as you will see a wide variety of stamps, and can decide which you like best.

If you have decided to collect just certain stamps (say on your favourite theme), you can buy albums with blank pages. You can use plain paper in ordinary binders. If you use plain paper, make sure it is of good quality. Thin paper will not be strong enough to hold your stamps.

While you are acquiring your stamps, and while deciding how best to arrange them in a collection, use a stock book. These contain card pages with clear strips into which you can slip your stamps. You can move your stamps around, and add more, very easily with a stock book.

More types of stamp collecting

We have seen that some collectors like to collect by theme or design, but many collect stamps from just one country or a group of countries. Often this may be of a country visited, perhaps on holiday, or a school trip.

Here are some stamps from just one country – France. However it is more usual to collect the stamps from the country where you live, if only because these stamps are usually easier to obtain.

What if I want more stamps?


What about joining a stamp club?

You can swap stamps and make new friends. Maybe your school has one already – if not try and persuade a teacher to start one!

You might be lucky and have a stamp shop in your area.

The stamp dealer may well be able to offer you stamps, and also help you with your collection.

There are events called stamp fairs.

These are held on a regular basis (say once a month, or once every three months) in a place like a church hall. Several stamp dealers all come together in the one place. Very often you will find them advertised in your local newspaper.

There are stamp exhibitions: these are usually held in large towns. If you look at Rocket News, the newspaper of Planet Stamp, you will find the details of the main exhibitions.

Large newsagents sell magazines for stamp collectors. Apart from the articles, and information about new stamp issues, which you will find useful, you will see many advertisements for stamps. But do speak with your parent or guardian before you reply to any of the advertisements.


How do I start a stamp collection?

Keeping the stamps from the letters you receive at home is a good start – but you should ask your parents before taking the stamps off the envelopes.

Ask your neighbours, relatives and friends to save stamps from their letters for you.

Save as many stamps as possible. That way you will see which you like best. You might prefer stamps that show a particular subject, like animals or aircraft.

Once you have chosen what you will collect, you may well have many stamps which you find you no longer need. You can use these to swap stamps with your friends, and so acquire stamps which you would like to own.

Many large newsagents sell packets of stamps. You may find a packet which has stamps on the theme you have chosen.

keep looking »