about Stamp Collecting published in APF News
you have never collected stamps before, or have come into possession
of a collection that you know nothing about, it is very easy to do
and your collection a disservice by not following some of the generally accepted
out what you have and organising it can be very difficult, especially
if you don't know much about what you have. Organising material by country is usually the first and best step. If you don't
have a lot to sort through, grouping countries into categories such
as British Commonwealth, Europe (non British Commonwealth) and then
other countries is also a good idea.
you are able, sorting your material into chronological order - at
least approximately - is also advisable, especially if you are thinking
of getting your collection appraised by a dealer. A collection that is well organised is much easier for someone to assess quickly
than one that is disorganised and has better items scattered where
the dealer is not expecting to find them.
dealer will generally know what to look for in a collection when
assessing its value and often there are key items or sets that make
the difference between a common collection and one that may be worth
considerably more. At least if things are sorted by country and time, you can quickly ascertain
what you need and know what you already have.
Numbers and References:
catalogue numbers is not essential in most cases and most collectors
do not go to this length when storing their stamps. For larger collections however, making notes as to completeness can be very useful.
and Special Items:
an experienced collector or dealer, spotting the importance of some
items can be relatively easy. However in many cases, stamps are produced in various forms over a period of
time. For example, Australia's two earliest Commonwealth series of stamps the 'map
and kangaroo' and George V heads, were issued over a some twenty
years period. Over that time, various types of watermarked papers were used, as well as different
perforation gauges (the number of holes used to separate stamps that
make up a sheet).
looks at a few examples form the first Commonwealth of Australia
kangaroo and map stamps. The prized piece is any Australian collection is the £2 value. These were printed over a long period between 1913 and 1950. Those from the first printings in 1913 (on first watermark paper) are considerably
rarer and more expensive than those printed after 1934 (on Crown
C of A watermark paper).
values in the kangaroo series were printed on only one type of paper.
For example, the five pence value was only printed during 1913 to
1915 on first watermark paper. That makes it quite a collectable item as everyone who wants a set of all the
kangaroo values needs to have this value in their collection.
addition to these varieties, early printing techniques were far from
perfect with printing plates often requiring constant repairs or
even complete replacement. This means that what might appear to be
two identical stamps may not be at all. A trained eye, and often a magnifying glass, may be needed depending on the complexity
of the particular stamps concerned.
and Improving a Collection:
said that there are no rules and that what you collect is entirely
up to you, following some basics is always advisable if you ultimately
want to make some sense of it all. Adhering to some basic rules is especially important if you expect to sell your
collection some day and only want to build it in order to achieve
importance of condition remains one of the least appreciated aspects
of collecting amongst novice collectors. Many smaller collections or accumulations are let down by their relatively poor
condition. This is particularly sad when the few otherwise better items in the collection
are amongst those in poorest condition in a collection.
you keep your stamps and other items in their best possible condition
is not that difficult. Some of key things to remember are:
them appropriately - appropriate storage is essential to minimising the likelihood of damage. Keeping
your stamps flat, dry and protected will help ensure you
achieve this. Various of types of albums and accessories are available and a stamp dealer can
advise you on what is best for your particular needs.
not handle your stamps with your hands - especially mint (unused) stamps where fingermarks or other blemishes will
show on the gum. User tweezers to handle stamps. Use of a second pair to gently lift up the strips
on an album page is also a useful technique as the perforations
on a stamp are
most commonly damaged from poor attempts to fit them into albums.
torn, bent or damaged stamps - stamps should also be clean and free of defects such as tears, bends or missing
perforations. With used stamps, heavy cancellations or cancellations that cover the majority
of the stamp should generally be avoided. Circular cancellations that do not cover more than one-quarter of the stamp are
not hinge unused stamps - mint or unused stamps should never be hinged as this will disturb the gum
and leave a mark if removed. Whilst hinging was common
place many years ago, it is not advisable. Hinging is generally safe for used stamps, provided good quality hinges are used. Poor quality hinges that are prone to coming lose are a recipe for stamps disappearing
mysteriously from your collection!
typical childhood collections lack inclusion of complete sets and
are overpopulated by more common values. This is where use of catalogues can be particularly useful - to identify missing
better items. Obviously the more complete a collection is, the less
work a potential new owner needs to undertake, and hence the more
appeal it has if being offered for sale.
of more common stamps, particularly if they are of mixed or generally
poorer condition should be avoided - if for no other reason than
they take up room in your albums at the expense of potentially new
and better items. A regular clean out of unwanted spares is inevitably always worth the effort.
and when you ever have your collection assessed for its value, the
inclusion (or absence of) better and rare items is usually the first
thing that will be noticed. Having multiples of more common stamps is never a good substitute for not having
complete sets and better items.
is determined by many factors of which age is but one. Even then, it does not always follow that old stamps are more valuable stamps. Many older stamps were in fact produced in quite large quantities and are not
rare at all. Condition, scarcity and collectability (demand) are greater determinants of value.
Take the example illustrated, a stamp issued by Australia in 1951
and 1952. Although it is now over fifty years old, over 420 million were printed. An unused
copy would probably cost you less than $1 to buy.
is less valuable"
may generally be true but is by no means true in all cases. Many
older stamps, particularly high face value stamps which were not
produced in large quantities, are certainly very collectable. Many
older higher face value stamps were produced for overseas postage. Not only were not many often produced, but because they travelled large distances,
rarely arrived in good condition.
should be removed from envelopes"
is concerned with much more than the simple stamp alone. Postal historians
and other specialists interested in things like mail carried by air,
mail sent or delivered to the world's polar regions, and topical
and thematic collectors look for much more. A complete envelope with stamp, cancel and often other instructional markings
or postally applied cachet is often more important than the stamp
alone. This is especially the case with envelopes that have been autographed, for example
the pilot's signature on an envelope has been carried on an inaugural
air mail service.
is an incredibly diverse field of endeavour. The number of stamp
issuing countries is growing all the time and the number of countries
now growing in popularity to collectors is greater than ever before.
In countries like Australia we are seeing demand for stamps and other
philatelic material from countries such as China on a scale never
seen before. The rapid growth of the internet and e-mail has also meant that collectors can
now access dealers, auction houses and postal administrations in
ways they never could before. What all this means is that the dynamics of stamp collecting are diverse and
complex and keeping up with the latest trends is more than a full
time occupation. When seeking advice from other collectors, dealers
or auction house, this must be remembered so always seek as many
opinions are you can.
Source: APF News, August 2005 ]