Magnifying Glasses

Even stamp collectors need the right tools

By Michael Baadke


Related Topics: Glassines Stock Pages

Magnifying glass

Stamp collectors rely upon magnifiers to see important details in stamp designs and to detect faults in stamps they are examining. Though a magnifier doesn't protect stamps from damage, it can protect you from buying a damaged stamp. Because stamps are so small and fragile, even a tiny defect can substantially detract from a stamp's quality.

Figure 1. Magnifying glasses help collectors spot defects in stamps. They also provide a better view of stamp designs.

A collector can use the magnifier to examine a stamp before he purchases it to make sure the stamp is sound. Most collectors begin by looking over the outer edges of the stamp. The points extending from the edge of a perforated stamp are known as perforation teeth. They are one of the most vulnerable elements of a stamp.

Collectors should avoid stamps that have bent or missing teeth. Stamp edges should also be examined for minute tears or cuts into the stamp paper.

There are many different kinds of magnifiers, ranging in price from a couple of dollars for small hand-held lenses to precision illuminated models that sell for a couple hundred dollars. A glass with four- or eight-power magnification (symbolized as 4x or 8x) will help the beginner collector get a good close-up view of stamp details. With higher power magnification the details will appear even larger.

Figure 1 shows three magnifiers commonly used by collectors. The object in the center of the illustration is a magnifying loupe with a fixed focal point. This magnifier can be placed carefully over the stamp and the details of the stamp will be enlarged and precisely focused.

All of these important stamp-collecting tools are available from local stamp dealers or from mail-order stamp supply dealers or can be ordered from Amos Advantage. Many dealers advertise in the pages of Linn's Stamp News. Some travel to stamp shows and exhibitions to sell supplies to collectors. Visiting a stamp dealer at his shop or at a show gives you the option of seeing first-hand the many different kinds of products that are available.

For information about stamp shows taking place in your area, check Linn's Stamp Events Calendar.

To see if there is a stamp dealer near you, try checking the yellow pages of your telephone book under the headings "Hobbies," "Stamps for Collectors" or "Coins and Stamps for Collectors." Once you have the right tools in hand, you can feel confident that you are handling and protecting your stamps and covers properly.