By Michael Baadke
We always try to keep the communication lines open here at Linn's Stamp News, and as a result, we get a lot of questions about stamp collecting basics from regular readers, as well as from visitors to our site on the Internet's World Wide Web.
I try to answer each of the questions that are directed to me, but I thought it might also be helpful to print a few of the more frequently asked questions and my answers to help out any collectors who have wondered about the same things.Even though some of the Internet visitors have never seen a copy of Linn's, we welcome their questions, because it's a good sign that another person is getting interested in our hobby.
Q: I'm just starting to collect stamps. What kind of album should I buy?
A: Until you know a little more about how your collection is going to develop, I'll suggest that instead of an album you buy some stock pages (also called stock sheets) or a stock book to hold your stamps.
A manila card stock page holding dozens of stamps is shown at the bottom of Figure 1. This type of stock page is relatively inexpensive. They can usually be found for 25¢ or 30¢ each, less than the cost of a postage stamp.
The sturdy manila page has pocket-like strips that hold stamps in place and protect them from damage. You can arrange stamps on the page in whatever order is most useful or convenient.
Vinyl stock pages with clear strips that allow a full view of the entire stamp cost a little more. There are many styles available, with prices ranging from about 60¢ per page up to a couple of dollars each or more.
Most stock pages have holes punched along one side to fit into a binder.
Stock books hold stamps much in the way that stock pages do, but the pages are bound together with a front and back cover.
An example of a small open stock book is shown at the top of Figure 1.
Stamps can be stored in stock book pages, and the books can easily be transported to stamp club meetings or local stamp shows.
Smaller books like the example shown in the illustration sell for as little as $10. Larger books with more pages cost more.
Depending on the style, 32-page stock books with 9-inch by 12-inch pages sell for around $15-$30.
Q: Where can I get supplies I need, like stock pages, stamp albums, tongs, hinges and stamp mounts?
A: You have a lot of choices when it comes to finding supplies like those shown in Figure 2.
I like to encourage collectors to visit a local retail stamp dealer whenever possible. The stamp dealer will probably carry most or all of the items you need to get started in the stamp hobby.
For a stamp dealer near you, check in the telephone book yellow pages under "Stamps for Collectors" or "Hobbies."
Another possibility is to attend a local stamp show. At the show you're likely to find several dealers who offer the items you need. The show also gives you a chance to do a little comparative price shopping.
A schedule of stamp shows appears each week in Linn's. In this issue, you'll findLinn's Stamp Events Calendar starting on page 60.
You can also purchase hobby supplies by mail from advertisers in Linn's. Several dealers regularly feature display advertisements in the paper, while others list their items in section 160 of Linn's classified ads, under the heading, "Accessories."
You can receive a free copy of the new Scott Publishing Co. Product Guide, which describes many different kinds of supplies, by writing to Scott Publishing Co., Box 828, Sidney, OH 45365-0828; or by calling 800-572-6885.
Scott Publishing Co., like Linn's Stamp News, is a division of Amos Press.
Q: Can I use these new stamps for postage?
A: I was surprised the first time I heard this question, but I'm not anymore.
The answer to this one is, "Absolutely!"
Despite television commercials and print ads from the Postal Service that seem to say otherwise, almost every stamp that the Postal Service makes and sells can be used as postage. (Only Official stamps and special delivery stamps are restricted in their usage.)
Celebrate the Century stamps, shown at the top of Figure 3, provide the perfect example.
When you buy Celebrate the Century stamps at the post office they are sealed in a plastic wrapper that makes them look untouchable.
They are arranged in a cockeyed fashion and bunched together oddly so they don't even look like normal stamps.
I've purchased one pane of each Celebrate the Century issue that has been released so far to add to my collection.
I've also bought plenty more to use for postage.
They cost exactly the same per stamp as the 32¢ Flag Over Porch, Yellow Rose, Statue of Liberty and all the other stamps with tired designs that everyone else is using for postage.
But the Celebrate the Century stamps are a lot more interesting.
It takes me about three-and-a-half minutes to tear open the plastic, remove the cardboard backing (and recycle it) and carefully separate all the stamps.
When I'm done, I've got 15 interesting stamps that actually look like stamps. I can use them to mail my mortgage payment, my electric bill, my order to my stamp dealer and my letter to Mom.
I'm hoping that the out-of-the-ordinary stamp will catch the eye of nearly everybody who gets my mail — even the clerk at the mortgage company.
It's certainly possible that they'll throw the stamp away, but maybe they'll save it. I hope they do save it and start their own stamp collection.
Either way, it doesn't really matter to me because I'm just having a lot more fun licking and sticking a stamp that shows Orville Wright in flight over Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Figure 3, bottom, as shown on my utility payment envelope), than I would peeling off the umpteenth Flag Over Porch stamp.
Yes, yes, yes! You can use them for postage. Please do. Maybe you'll give someone somewhere the idea to start collecting stamps.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.