Here are a handful of easily remembered TIPS that will help you become a better stamp collector. And if you’re a more experienced philatelist, perhaps you have a handy hint for the beginner that you would like to add to this list. If so, just e-mail us and we’ll add your tip to this page.
LEARNING ABOUT U.S. STAMPS. In the front section of the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps is a terrific 40-page guide to learning all about the stamps and postal history of the U.S. A lot of detailed handbooks have been written on this subject, but none cover the subject in as concise, and easy-to-understand, manner as this basic guide.
WANT TO LEARN THE CURRENT MARKET VALUE OF VARIOUS STAMPS? Go to the huge StampFinder.Com site where you will see multiple dealers selling tens of thousands of stamps. Search for a particular stamp and up will pop numerous listings for the same stamp. It’s a quick way to find the current value of many stamps.
IS A DEALER WHO WANTS TO SELL YOU STAMPS A REPUTABLE PROFESSIONAL? Most dealers belong to the American Philatelic Society. If they are, then their reputations are well-established. Check out this link to see if the dealer is an APS member. And when checking the ads in a stamp magazine, always look for the symbol of either the APS or the American Stamp Dealers Association. Both organizations have a Code of Ethics to which their members subscribe.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR MOST OF ALL WHEN BUYING A STAMP THAT IS WORTH MORE THAN $200? Generally, stamps with this kind of value and higher will come with an expert certificate from the American Philatelic Expertizing Service or the Philatelic Foundation…or other expertizing body. Such certificates verify the authenticity of what one is purchasing.
HOW CAN I FIND SOME REAL BARGAINS IN THE AREA THAT I COLLECT? Knowledge is power! If you learn all there is to know about your particular specialty, you will generally have more knowledge about that subject than the majority of commercial stamp dealers. These great professionals simply cannot know all there is to know about every item they sell. Armed with a body of knowledge, you will be able to spot items of value that are priced well below what they might otherwise be worth.
GO FOR QUALITY! Even though you may not be thinking about the eventual value of your stamp or cover collection, it is always wise to only purchase material of the highest quality you can afford. Stamps and covers that rise in value the most are the ones that are in the best condition. A never hinged, original gum, well-centered version of the $1.00 U.S. Colombian stamp of 1893 will always command a higher price than the same stamp that has been hinged or has no gum.
WHAT WILL BE THE "NEXT" IMPORTANT AREA TO COLLECT…AND ONE IN WHICH THE VALUES MAY RISE THE FASTEST? There is always value in collecting postal history (covers that have gone through the mails, commercially used by the sender). While much of the world’s postal history before 1930 has already found its "water level" of value, the collecting of modern (post-1930) covers is the fastest-growing specialty in philately. Covers from this period will be the classics of the future.
I’M INTERESTED IN COLLECTING THE STAMPS FROM A RATHER OBSCURE COUNTRY. WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SUBJECT? The best source of information on virtually any subject in philately is the vast resources available from the American Philatelic Research Library. You can visit their online card catalog and search for various topics or consult with them via e-mail to get the information you need.
SHOULD I INSURE MY STAMP COLLECTION? Most homeowners insurance policies do NOT adequately cover one’s collectibles. It is always wise to have specialized insurance for a stamp collection. The oldest company in this business is the Collectibles Insurance Agency in Westminster, Maryland.