Stamp collecting is one of the oldest hobbies around. For years it was one of the most popular things to do with your spare time.
Albert Einstein pointed out that stamp collecting - is a great form of recreation, when a man of intellectual work, is parting from the everyday process of intensive reflection and "diving" in an album with stamps, switched to a different way of creative mental synthesis and systematization of what is in front of his eyes.
Long-term pedagogical experiments in various countries of Western Europe led to the fact that stamp collecting (as activating curiosity, disciplining, and encouraging attention to the accuracy occupation) was included as a mandatory element in the educational programs of all primary and secondary schools.
An important factor acting in favor of the adoption of philately as a starting point is the development of publicly accessible infrastructure. Postage stamps have existed for more than a century and a half, and for more than a century and a half philately is recognized as a separate type of collecting. This time was enough to form a significant number of national and international commercial and public structures that finally determined stamp collecting as a socially significant phenomenon.
Thus, as we can see, there is not only the existence of a universal international hobby - collecting of stamps, but also a well-formed infrastructure, providing a regulatory impact on the individual stamp collectors and also on their unions and associations.
Types of stamps
At first glance, postage stamps differ only by the pictures on them. One are depicting the emblems of different countries, the other - portraits of great men, the third - the spacecraft and so on. There are stamps, picturing cities, stamps with images of birds, animals and plants.
But it is only the first glance. When you are getting more familiar with stamp collecting, stamps are gradually opening up their secrets. We notice that stamps may differ in size: some are small, others - larger, and there are the giants stamps, that will not fit on the envelope. Then a new discovery: it turns out, that most stamps come in different shapes - rectangular, square, triangular, rhombic, and also they can be rounded, oval, hexagonal, etc. Peering closer, we notice a number of inscriptions on the stamps, "Air Mail", "special delivery", "Express", "Extra," and so forth, and in addition, some other inscriptions made directly on the picture, some figures and signs. An experienced philatelist can notice dozens of such differences, and they all did not appear accidentally. They all have their importance, the deeper meaning. They all are the stamp history and the history of it's progenitor - mail.
Stamp can tell a lot to the inquisitive person. But for this you have to know the language of stamps, be able to talk to them, staying alone with the album. This is a special charm of stamp collecting. And mastering the mysteries of stamps, their fanciers transform gradually from a primitive collector pictures to the enthusiastic collector, a real philatelist.
Do not forget that the stamp is a mark of postal payment. Stamps are released by the post office to ensure that the sender paid for sending his letters. And the letters are different: postcards or greeting cards (they used to be so called the "Open Letter"), ordinary, registered, airmail, etc. The Post Office is setting the cost of mail service, depending on the type of mail, producing the corresponding value of the stamp.
So, you decided to collect stamps and have already decided on the direction of your collection. Now, it is necessary to acquire the necessary philatelic tools.
Today, the philatelists are able to find all kinds of tools: stamp-albums, "klemmtashe", tweezers and so on. It is easy to get lost in the market of philatelic accessories and spend too much extra money, without realizing for yourself, what the philately is. Let's try to understand what tools are necessary to everyone, even to a novice philatelist, and which ones are not so necessary.
Philatelist almost never takes his stamps by hands, because he must be afraid to damage or soil them. Even thoroughly washed, your hands can leave the marks of fat on the stamp. Only in the exceptional cases you may touch the stamp with your hands, for example, when you need to separate the perforated stamps from each other. They must be separated carefully along the perforation without damaging it. In most other cases to work with the stamps there should be used a special tongs, usually made of chrome or nickel-plated steel. Their length is 10 - 12 inches, at the ends they have a small flat thin but not sharp spatulas. Many prefer the same tweezers, but with the spatulas, bent to one side. They are more convenient to insert and remove stamps from the stamp-album. In no case you should not use the tweezers, which have channeled teeth, they will only ruin the stamp. To check the quality of purchased tweezers, you should try should to pick up a piece of paper from the flat glass table.
Magnifying glass used in stamp collecting, has a biconvex lens. For examining the common stamps it is enough to have only three-four-fold increase, which provides a magnifying glass. To determine the rasters, printing methods, types of small deviations and other things there would be needed 8 - 10 times increasing magnifying glass. Philatelists prefer the well-polished (not pressed) glass lens. Plastic (Plexiglas) is distorting the image, especially at the edges and rapidly lose their usefulness because of the scratches. "Stationary" magnifying glasses at various stands allow you to adjust the height and leave your hands free. Very convenient is the binocular magnifying glass that you can fix on your forehead.
Also are available the magnifiers with illumination. In the frame of this magnifying glass there is mounted a flashlight, and batteries - in the crank. This allows to see the stamp very well even in a low ambient light.
Also, sometimes when you need to separate the toothless stamps, you must have a special philatelic cutter is a plastic handle. After a little practice you will learn how to cut the "toothless" stamps properly and accurately.
Of course, there are a lot of other stamp collecting tools: brushes, drawing pens, etc, but in contrast to the above accessories, the novice collector can do well without them.
Don't forget to choose proper stamp collecting software that will allow you to properly organize and manage your collection.