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A Hobbyist's Guide To Stamp Collecting Supplies

Nov 30, 2007
Stamp collecting is a life-long hobby for art enthusiasts, traders and hobbyists alike. Much depends upon the quality of the stamps and to preserve your collection, you'll also need some stamp collecting supplies.

Archival stockbooks, stamp albums and computer organizer software are stamp collecting supplies that help collectors organize, maintain and protect the stamps. Archival stockbooks are made up of stiff pages with pockets where stamps can be set, without using any kind of hinge or adhesive. This can be good for the person who likes to rearrange or find an inexpensive option for keeping duplicate or lesser important stamps.

The best option for professional hobbyists looking to maintain more valuable stamps is an album -- either pre-printed or blank. Kids and beginners often love the pre-printed albums because they provide informative descriptions about particular stamps and give them something to aspire to with their collection.

Online software is good for traders. It's advisable to look for programs that will scan and separate a full sheet into individual files, since this is a great time saver.

The next thing to purchase facilitates the affixing of the stamps into your album. Stamp Hinges are small rectangular pieces of paper coated with a sticky gum. Collectors are encouraged to buy "peel-able" hinges to prevent damaging hinge marks on them. After lightly moistening the hinge, affix the short end to it and the long end to the page, which will allow interested buyers to examine the back of the stamp without completely unsticking it.

Collectors should never use glue or tape to affix them! In fact, unhinged ones are ideal but exceedingly rare. Metal Stamp Tongs are used by philatelists to hold them without getting finger oils on them.

Varieties include length (ranging from 4-8 inches) and tip (shovel or pointed). Pointed tips are great for intricate positioning but can also tear the stamp so the shovel tips are more practical.

The third category of supplies deals with examination. A Magnifying Glass (with a lens power of 3-4) reveals subtle imprints, color and watermarks. Serious philatelists will purchase a Perforation Gauge and a Watermark Detector to really get a good look. Perforation Gauges measure the holes between two or more of them, which can sometimes reveal a rare stamp from an ordinary one, or a unique stamp from one a collector already has in his or her collection.

It is used by sliding the gauge along a stamp and reading the "perf number" once the holes are aligned. A Watermark Detector will alert collectors to unique markings, rare ones or even clever forgery attempts. Just like money, stamps have hidden designs, invisible to the naked eye, that guarantee authenticity. Some collectors choose to use black trays and Benzine droppers to view watermarks.

The last category is informational. Magazines, books and catalogs can be a great source of knowledge as to what the market offers and how one's collection stacks up. The stories regarding many of them is rather amazing and can make a great archival paragraph to keep in the collection!

Stamp collecting supplies are crucial regardless of whether you are a beginner buying the first album, hinges and magnifying glass -- or a professional purchasing a perforation gauge, watermark detector and collecting software.
About the Author
Mike Selvon has some great stamp collecting articles for the hobbist, where you can find out more tips on stamp collecting supplies. We appreciate your feedback at our stamp collecting values blog.
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