Order, History and Design. That’s pretty much why I collect stamps.
Also, Sociability. Other people collect stamps too, which is nice. I’ve made many friends through my local stamp club and online stamp forums, even though they build their collections differently and enjoy the hobby for different reasons.
Here are some other collecting areas popular with my friends:
- The Home Nation (or Former Home). Many people collect stamps of their home nation and leave it at that. Or, if they came from another country (or their parents did, or their grandparents did), then they’ll collect stamps from the “Old Country” too. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vast majority of the members of the Regina Philatelic Club keep a Canada collection. But we collect a lot more, too.
- Postal Routes and Rates. Some collectors go deep into what is known as “postal history.” They study postage rates in depth and can look at a “cover” (an intact envelope) and can tell at a glance why this cover from 1971 required 10c postage or that cover needed 25c. Others are experts on how mail traveled over the prairies in the early days of the railroad, or how it traveled around the world in the early days of air mail.
- Postmarks and cancels. These are the marks that cancel a stamp so it can’t be used again. One friend of mine is trying to find a cancel from every town in Saskatchewan, including the old ghost towns which don’t have postmarks any more. Another collects varieties of ‘spray cancels’ on modern envelopes.
- Topicals/Thematics. This is collecting according to the design of the stamp rather than the country of issue. One friend of mine, a retired RCMP officer, collects all the stamps and envelopes issued about the RCMP and police services. I do this a little bit – my “bread and bakers” collection contains three stamps, although I have nearly a dozen “soccer” stamps on one page. It’s fun but not my main thrill.
- Printing Varieties. Collectors often call this ‘flyspecking.’ The way line engraved stamps are produced makes it possible for there to be very tiny differences in each stamp. One friend of mine loves to look at each stamp under very high magnification and share all the tiny re-entry lines or engraving flaws he can find. Not my cup of tea at all, but he really loves it.
- Collect to the Album: I have a few friends who have bought an old, preprinted album and have organized their collecting work around filling the album up. Everything they buy feeds into this one album. This sounds very appealing to me, although I haven’t done it yet. Not with stamps anyway – that’s what Panini stickers are for.
I can appreciate my friend’s stamp collections and enjoy them very much, though not nearly as much as their owners do. And while I have no interest in building a collection just like my friends, I am glad they enjoy the hobby as much as I do.
And that’s the real reason this hobby is so much fun. The possibilities are endless.
How do you focus your collection? Leave a comment and share your story!