Hi! Looking to learn a little about stamps.

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Luke Ferguson, Feb 5, 2015.

  1. Luke Ferguson

    Luke Ferguson New Member

    Hi, my name is Luke and I've recently been taking up an interest in stamp collecting. I'm joining this forum in hope that some of you will share your knowledge and teach me which stamps are common and which are the super rare ones. I look forward to chatting with you and expanding my collection. See you around! :)
     
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  2. Gunny

    Gunny Retired Jarhead Moderator

    Welcome Luke, enjoy your stay. I'd encourage you to start reading some of the postings and ask a lot of questions. Once again, welcome aboard.
     
  3. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

    Hello again Luke... a second welcome from another forum.

    Your profile doesn't say where you are from but if from the US, I would suggest going to a couple of websites such as www.mysticstamp.com or www.kenmorestamp.com as both sites have beginning guides to stamp collecting as well as 'free' catalogues (watch out for the approval mailings; just send them back if you are not wanting anything but the catalogues).

    Many local libraries also carry How To books on collecting, and some in larger areas actually carry the Scott's catalogues which are packed with info. Do a PM on the conversations to any of us and we can tell you a couple of other places to look depending on your interests.
     
  4. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

    Hello Again Luke!

    Browsing through some of the other threads gave me a copy of this link...
    http://howtocollectstamps.com/ May be of some use!
     
  5. zararina

    zararina Simply Me! :D

    Welcome to the forum Luke. :)
    Right that lots of informative threads/post on here that you can freely browse.
     
  6. charlesakinney

    charlesakinney New Member

    Start slow and read up on stamps. It really isn't too confusing if you start at the beginning. I have been in stamps for at least 40 years. Welcome to one of the greatest hobbies in the world!
     
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  7. Luke Ferguson

    Luke Ferguson New Member

    Where do you suggest I begin? Like should I learn about the most common stamps or what stamps people like the most? Do you think there's any personal preference involved or is it all based on how rare/valuable the stamp is?
     
  8. Luke Ferguson

    Luke Ferguson New Member

    Thanks, I'll try these sites out when I have some free time, which is pretty much right now lol. I hadn't thought of getting a book, but that might be a way to learn a little bit about the history of collecting, which would also be cool.
     
  9. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    Where to start is more of a self-evaluation process. I think you must ask yourself what your interests are. If you are more interested in older stamps then by all means go with that. If you are interested in a particular country go with that. If you have interests that are topical then start a topical collection. There are so many niches in philately that some kind of focus is essential (to some). Some people collect worldwide and collect everything that they can and that's O.K. too. Some people collect covers, others collect back of the book stamps, some collect state revenue stamps, others cinderellas and labels. There is no wrong and right really. It's all about what stimulates "you" and motivates "you". Welcome aboard and hopefully the collective group here can give some direction and information.
     
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  10. Barry

    Barry Member

    A stamp catalog such as the Scott Standard Catalogue in the US or Stanley Gibbons in the UK will list the values of stamps. I will caution you against the most common fallacies that beginning collectors have about stamp values: 1. Old stamps are automatically worth more than modern stamps. There are Victorian era stamps that are very common and very inexpensive because hundreds of millions of them were made. There are modern stamps that are worth substantial sums because of a variety that collectors didn't discover until the stamp was out of print (or simply not many copies were saved). 2. Mint stamps are always worth more than used. This is true about 90% of the time but there are significant exceptions. One area I collect is Finland and many of the early 20th century issues are worth more used than mint. However, they must be used with a legitimate and legible date cancel to make sure they were used during the period the stamps were regularly in use in the postal system, not cancelled for a collector decades later. 3. The most common stamps are really worth the 25 cent value listed in the catalog. Every catalog has a "minimum" value for stamps, but the stamps really aren't worth that much. It's more a factor than a stamp dealer is not going to go to all the effort of selling you one stamp for a few pennies. But you can buy large lots of common stamps for an average price of pennies each. So if you see a pane of 50 mint US 3-cent stamps from the 1950s, it's not really worth $12.50. In fact, it's probably worth about 80% of face value or about $2.40. 4. The price in a stamp catalog is what a dealer will pay for a stamp. Stamp dealers need to make a profit for their time and investment of capital. So let's take a common example. Stamp dealer "X" will normally sell stamp "Y" in F-VF condition for 60% of the catalog value. In order to make a profit, he will probably only offer 30% of catalog value for that same stamp. But even this fluctuates, if the dealer has 100 copies of "X" in his inventory and only sells 10 per year, he may not offer anything or only offer 10% or 20%. On the other hand, if he has a buyer that he knows is looking for the stamp so he can resell it quickly, he might offer 40% or even 50% of catalog value. On a bunch of common stamps, you might be lucky to get 5% of catalog value (remember #3 above), on a very rare stamp it might even be full catalog value. 5. Mint and used are the only condition factors collectors and dealers care about. Actually, the value of a given stamp can very significantly based on other condition factors. First, is the stamp damaged in any way? Even small tears, creases, stains, etc. will knock 90% off the value of a stamp. Second, how well is the stamp centered? Any stamp catalog will show you examples of centering, which is graded on a scale from good (which is actually pretty bad) to extremely fine (XF). Typically on classic Canadian stamps (Queen Victoria through King George V) a very fine centered stamp will be worth double what a fine centered stamp is worth (ref.: The Unitrade Canada Specialized Catalog). In the US, this has been taken to an extreme with one stamp service grading stamps on a 100 point scale. For some pre-WWII US stamps, a stamp with near perfect centering (95 to 100) can be worth 100 times what a stamp with fine centering with worth. Finally, for unused stamps the condition of the gum makes a difference to value. A stamp with pristine gum will be worth more than one that has been hinged, which is worth more than one with no gum at all or most of the gum missing. On classic Canadian stamps the premium for "never hinged" over "hinged" is anywhere from 25% to 200%. Stamp values very simply come down to supply and demand. For example a US inverted Jenny (only 100 exist) will usually sell for between $125,000 to $575,000 depending on the condition. A Canada St. Lawrence Seaway invert of which only 200 exist typically sells for around $8000. Why the huge difference? One big factor is that there are a lot more people collecting US stamps than Canadian stamps. The other is that there are twice as many stamps available. The US Air Mail Zeppelin set of 3 is pretty valuable, depending on condition you'll pay between $600 and $2000 for a set, but they are readily available. I could easily buy a dozen sets this afternoon on-line or at any US stamp show if I had the money and inclination. However, there are stamps with a far lower catalog value that only show up on the market once every couple of years. But there isn't as much demand because not as many people are collecting them, so they are valued far less than those Zeppelin stamps.
     
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  11. Philactica

    Philactica Active Member

    Some good advice - read the inductory pages of Scott.

    The catalogue is only a guide but the salt is understanding why some are priced as they are.

    Afterall, it took over a Century and a half to produce some philatelic order.
     
  12. jim72051

    jim72051 Active Member

    My experience is almost entirely with US items. The common, and poor quality will always be low value whereas the high quality and less common that have already established value will continue to be desirable. If it is old and isn't worth $50 or more now, it probably never will be. If you want a high volume of material just pick up used albums or box lots at the various shows. There will be lots of interesting but low value material. If you want high value, identify a dozen stamps or a cover theme that interests you, like the US pre-1900 commemoratives or the US airmail zeppelin stamps or for covers consider Civil War items or special Zeppelin flights. Focus on getting exceptionally good quality, professionally graded examples. It is very easy for a minor fault or "repairs" to reduce the value of a stamp by 80% so if you have no experience assume the stamps that are not graded have faults until your skills improve. In general individual stamps are all about the quality of the stamp whereas individual covers are all about the subject so a zeppelin on a cover is less likely to have an undetected fault that destroys most of the value than mint stamp.
    A seller selling a faulty items is not necessarily trying to trick you. They are very hard to detect and the seller may not know. There are also a large number of forgeries in the market, particularly overprints and cancels so, again, assume the worst if it is not professionally graded. I have rooms full of common material that I would trade for a few exceptional, professionally graded items.
     
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  13. Luke Ferguson

    Luke Ferguson New Member

    I am pretty interested in history and different countries, especially in the east. I'm sure Japan probably has some sweet stamps. That does seem like a good place to start! Thanks for the guidance, man. I appreciate it.
     
  14. Larry L. Taylor

    Larry L. Taylor Active Member

    Stamp collecting is a 'holistic trip'. 'To each his own' in other words. Some people collect topicals (cars, boats/ships, flowers, certain animals/insects, castles, Olympic themes). Others may dwell down on something like plate position of some of the early Great Britain stamps. Others may focus on complete sets of stamps, time periods e.g. pre-1940, or specific countries only. After all, how many people have a complete collection of stamps from Danzig, and perhaps more importantly, how many collectors are there that would be willing to buy such a collection? I talked to a dealer at a stamp show about a large world-wide collection (mine). He said he's break it down by country and sell if off piecemeal. Brought a tear to my eye.

    As to value collecting, there may be a few that ascribe to that genre. I once heard a fellow at a stamp show (or was it a coin show?) that said he wouldn't waste his time collecting the run-of-the-mill items. I guess he collected only the key dates (in coins) or key denominations in stamps. For example, he might not focus on the 1890 Columbians as a set, but only on the dollar denominated ones; those are hard to come by. I gathered he was into collecting as an investment rather than as a relaxing diversion from the humdrum life he must have led. As I said earlier . . . to each his own.

    Personally, I've never considered my stamp collection to be an investment. After 50+ years of collecting, I'll bet I'm still in the hole monetarily considering what I've spent over the years and what my collection might sell for today. My guess is the 30+ volume Minkus Global album set housing my world-wide collection may be worth more than the ~100,000 stamps contained therein; you can't buy a set of albums like that today, with or without stamps. Hell, maybe I'm just into collecting album pages, and the adornment with stamps is just an after thought?

    And by the way, welcome to this forum.
     
    ram likes this.
  15. Luke Ferguson

    Luke Ferguson New Member

    Thanks, this type up is very helpful to me. I guess I need to find my niche or my interest and go from there. And 50 years? You must be a professional by now.
     
  16. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    Japan does have some nice stamps and interesting postal history. That wouldn't be a bad place to start.
     
  17. ram

    ram Member

    I also would like very much to learn about stamp collecting.
    I'm collecting stamps for about ten years, but I've never learned about it, because in my country it's not very common these days
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
  18. Jaap Hol

    Jaap Hol New Member

    For me the same Luke.
     
  19. Neves

    Neves Stamps from Australia

    It is a great journey in History, Geography and Culture... Kings, Queens, Birthdays, marriages, religions, music...
    I have pre unified Germany stamps (Baden, Bavaria...) and WWII... Cescolovenko and Yugoslavia...
    By the way, if you are interested in Australian stamps, I have plenty to exchange... Just drop me a line at stampneves@gmail.com australia-1000-different-fine-used-stamps-9-p.jpg
     
  20. ram

    ram Member

    Hello neves, would you like to exchange stamps with me?
     
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