How can I begin stamp collecting?

Beginning a stamp collecting is as easy as collecting the stamps from your daily mail. Try it for a few weeks and see how many different stamps you can collect. Visit your local post office and ask to see the new commemorative stamps they have in stock.

A. How may I obtain stamps?

B. How may I identify stamps?

This stamp says it is from Helvetia. Where is Helvetia? A stamp identifier will help you.

C. How can I arrange my stamp collection?

You will enjoy your collection more if you organize it so you can see all of the stamps. Albums and stock books will keep the stamps safe and accessible.

  1. Stamp albums and stock books – to store what I collect
  2. Hinges and mounts – to attach the items I collect to album pages

D. What tools and supplies are available to help me?

You don’t need much more than stamps and a place to put them to begin a collection, but having a few useful tools will make your collecting activities more fun and help you protect the stamps you collected.

  1. Catalogs and price lists – to let me know what is available
  2. Stamp tongs - “tweezers” used to pick up stamps
  3. Magnifiers – to see small details of my stamps
  4. Perforation gauges – to measure the holes that separate stamps
  5. Watermark devices – to see the watermark that paper may have
  6. Stamp Collecting Terms and Abbreviations

E. How do I use stamp collecting equipment?

Having the right tools help you be a better collector, but you also must know how to use the tools to get the most out of them.

  1. Choosing Tongs (Linn’s)
  2. How do I use stamp tongs? – necessary tool for handling your stamps
    How to Buy Stamp Tongs (askphil)
    Three Tips for Stamp Collectors: Soaking Stamps, Choosing and Album and Using Tongs (APS)
  3. How do I use hinges? – to hold stamps in your album How to Use Hinges, Mounts & Tongs (askphil)
  4. How do I use mounts? - to hold stamps or covers (envelopes) in your album How to Use Hinges, Mounts & Tongs (askphil)
  5. How do I use a perforation gauge? – to measure perforations around the edges of stamps How to use a Perforation Gauge (askphil)
  6. How do I find the watermark on a stamp?
    Watermarking Stamps (Junior Philatelists on the Internet)
    How to Watermark Stamps (askphil)
  7. How do I find a stamp in a stamp catalog? How to Use a Stamp Catalog (askphil)
    There’s More to a Catalog Than Stamp Listings (Linns)
    Using the Catalogs (Linn’s)
  8. Where do I buy stamp collecting equipment?

F. How may I store my stamps?

New collectors sometimes recruit an old shoebox in which to store their stamps. This is not a good idea. Store your stamps safely and you will be able to enjoy them for a long time.

  1. Storing Stamps (linn’s)
  2. Selecting a stamp album – to best highlight your collection
  3. Using a stock book – an alternative or addition to a stamp album How to Store Stamps (askphil)
  4. Glassine envelopes – used to store stamps or “covers” (envelopes) Glassines (Linn’s)
  5. Caring for your collections

Smithsonian Institution


Supply Companies

G. How do I make an exhibit of my stamp collection?

Stamp shows and exhibitions frequently have exhibits of stamp collections that have been made by people just like you. It is a fun and creative way to enjoy your collection and share it with others. Be sure to visit local stamp shows to see how others have created exhibits!

  1. What is a stamp exhibit?
  2. How to build a stamp exhibit
  3. Where to exhibit your stamps