Stamp collection is a learning process in itself. Children not only gain a lot of general knowledge about different cultures, countries, history, etc., but also imbibe the qualities of discipline, regularity, and responsibility since they are maintaining a hobby. Not to mention, the end result of a huge stamp collection gives them a feeling of satisfaction and pride for having successfully completed what they started.
The study of stamps and items related to it is known as 'philately'. It is different from collecting stamps in a way that the activity does not necessarily include their systematic study. Therefore, a philatelist may not have his own collection of stamps, but, will know a lot about them.
Getting Started: While undertaking any hobby, one should first understand that whatever one does, reflects his/her personality. Similarly, the types of stamps collected by a person reflect his/her interests. Some kids collect stamps with a particular theme or subject, for example, sports. This kind of an activity is known as thematic or topical philately. The collection could also be specific to a particular country. Some of the common themes are musical instruments, trains, boats, presidents of different countries, etc. The stamps could also be chosen randomly without any particular theme.
Finding the Stamps: The activity could begin at home itself. Searching for stamps on letters at home, from neighbors, friends, etc., should be the first step in this activity. As the collection increases, one can join a stamp club and take help from the members of the group. The stamp clubs provide a common platform for stamp collectors to interact. Here, one can trade their duplicate/extra stamps for newer ones.
Preserving the Stamps: This is extremely important as it helps you build a huge collection. There is a specific method to preserve stamps. First, you need to soak the stamps before sorting or mounting them. Soaking is done in cold or lukewarm water, to separate the stamps from the papers to which they are affixed. Once the stamps are removed carefully, dry them by placing them in between paper towels. Make sure that you soak only a few stamps so that it keeps them from bleeding onto each other. Glassine envelopes are generally used for storing the stamps. Make use of tools like magnifiers, stamp tongs, and perforation gauges (perfs), to handle the stamps properly. The perf gauges help in measuring the holes that are present along the stamp edges while magnifiers facilitate ease in reading the stamps.
Sorting and Mounting the Stamps: It is recommended that the stamps be sorted according to country. Many websites like 'iswsc.org' provide the necessary help on how to recognize the name of a country on stamps. The sorted stamps should be stored in separate binders or albums for easy handling. Stamp mounts or peelable hinges are generally used to attach stamps to the pages of albums. The peelable hinges are translucent papers with a special type of glue on the backside; they should be moistened before use.
Hope the tips in this article have inspired you. Stamp collection can be taken up by kids without having to invest much in it.