What is Stamp Collecting?


Stamp collecting is a well-known hobby that many people enjoy. It goes hand in hand with philately, also known as the study of stamps. Philatelists spend their time and effort scouring old envelopes for their preferred subject, which can range anywhere from a specific time period or place to a particular type of stamp. This is not only fun but also educational. You can learn a lot about history and cultures when stamp collecting, especially if you research the origins of each one.

While some stamps can be worth a lot of money, most people collect them as a personal hobby for enjoyment. A stamp that is valuable to you might not be a stamp valuable to me, unlike many coin collections where intrinsic worth is placed on each depending on rarity or errors. For instance, I would put a higher value on a stamp that passed between my grandparents than one that was sent between yours. That doesn’t make your stamp less valuable overall, but it does slightly change the overall worth to each of us, personally.

This isn’t to say that some stamps aren’t worth a lot of money. Stamp collections have sold for millions of dollars in the past. However, these collections were carefully curated over the years and included rare editions or have a hefty historical value placed upon them depending on who the envelope they were attached to was sent. To illustrate, the most valuable stamp on record is the British Guiana 1c Magenta from 1856, a tiny portion of which were run with an additional boat on the print, as part of the original shipment was lost, and an emergency batch had to be made. One of these sold for $9.48 million. Other stamps are rated on four criteria:

  • The image printed on the face of the stamp.
  • The perforations along the edge of the stamp.
  • The monetary value of the stamp, such as 1c.
  • The country of origin of the stamp.

These criteria are often how the name of the stamp is designated. For instance, a stamp worth 2c with George Washington’s face on it will be known as the American 2c George Washington.

If you’re interested in stamp collecting, the best way to start is by going through the letters you have received over the years or asking family and friends if they have letters sent to their parents and grandparents. You never know what you might find in a dusty old attic. You can also peruse stamp collections for sale online or in stores, some of which are owned by people willing to trade. Just be sure to take good care of your stamps by placing them in an acid-free collection book.

Written by