Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some advice from the UK....

I just found a website which you may already know about. It includes an article on stamp collecting for beginners which you may enjoy - it's focus is acquisition of material...

Honestly, it used to embarass me a great deal to enter a post office with a stamp collector I know (who shall remain nameless) who did just what this author recommends and unabashedly rummaged through the waste bin for interesting items for his collection. But the author is correct in recommending pride (in this instance) be subordinate to pleasure. Feel free to ask for stuff and look for it and accept it and get started!

Monday, December 19, 2011

3-Ring, Peg Post, Springback ????

Today I had to arrange some pages in a 2-post peg-fitting binder. LOVELY binder!! But a bit of a bother to undo the pegs and remove all the pages to replace one bit at the back.

When I talk with collectors, most of them are sure they know what the best binding for an album is...BUT they don't all agree. As a novice, I find the Springback unhandy. It feels like I'm breaking it to get it open, then I have trouble lining up the pages correctly when I reclose it. BUT I can see how it's easier than the peg-post for putting in an odd page out of sequence, or rearranging pages already in.

Ringed binders are the most comfortable for me, but then I have lots of non-philatelic experience with them, so am at ease with the concept. Three-ring binders in general have a problem of eventually losing their grip and page holes eventually require reinforcing. The Stanley Gibbons 22-ring binders are very secure and the stress on each hole is minimized by the prevelance of others. However, I don't have a 22-ring punch to make my own pages :)

Conclusion -- in choosing a binder, it's up to you. There's not a "best" because they're all good for one purpose or another. One word of motherly advice, however. If this is a new hobby, don't choose by what feels comfortable. This may be a long journey and you will become comfortable over time with any of the choices. Choose based on objective parameters, and let comfort follow.

That's my opinion. For me, I don't want to deal with peg-posts for awhile, but if I really don't want to lose my pages, they'd be the best, I think.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Santa brought....

This week I met a lovely lady who stopped in the store to see about "stocking stuffers" for her architect husband who is a new stamp collector. As with many new collectors these days, he is neither young nor retired, and comes to the hobby by inheriting a collection. His interest is apparently very real and his wife wanted to show her support with a little something for the stocking. After browsing at various items, she chose (partly based on size - it was LITERALLY going in the stocking):

1 - pocket-sized stock book (black cover)
1 - mixed set of mounts (for USA stamps)
1 - "Stamp Collecting is Fun" book

It made a nice little package of love!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The best gifts are hard to wrap...

Gifts are great! They can be pretty, fun, practical, yummy, wonderful things. They can meet a need, provide joy, encourage, delight, amuse... They can also be a hard tangible representation of something else. A book can reflect an interest shared. A toy can invite play. A tool can promote competence and independence. Slippers may communicate care and comfort.

Several stamp collectors have variously, over time, shared with me a moment in their collecting that was critical to encouraging and/or deepening their genuine interest in this hobby. None of these moments involved "stuff" -- all of them involved an adult they respected interacting in a way that validated or encouraged or challenged them. In each instance, their interest was taken seriously and they were treated as another collector, not a child.

The time and attention and respect of another human being is the best gift for a beginning collector. Hopefully, as this blog grows, we can use it to connect beginners with those who can provide this wonderful gift.

Meanwhile, if you want to send a gift to your grandchildren to invite them to share your joy of stamp collecting, I think any of various choices previously mentioned will wrap well and be pretty under the Christmas tree. But the real gift will be impossible to wrap.

Which brings to my mind a scene near the end of the movie, "The Electric Grandmother", (based on Ray Bradbury's short story). As the grandmothers sit and rock and reminisce, Maureen Stapleton's character remarks, "Sometimes I forget the difference between love and paying attention."

Friday, December 9, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to the 11th floor...

Bear with me - there's a stamp collecting connection that will become clear at the end (I hope).

I just stood up from playing the old upright piano in our 11th-floor apartment. It's taken me two months to give myself permission to sit down and play it without guilt: I don't play well and its presence represents pain to others that could have been avoided. The original plan was to leave the piano behind as moving it was impractical, but learning there was a freight elevator at our new apartment building, we thought maybe it could be done - the piano is on wheels, after all. Loading it onto the rental truck seemed the largest hurdle - until we arrived in STL and met the freight elevator -- the size of a small closet at right angles to a narrow hall.

The logistical brilliance and sheer determination of the guys moving us managed to get the impossible done and the piano arrived in our 11th-floor apartment - a few sore backs and several scratched floors later. Was it worth it? That was my anguish. Trying to balance the cost to others against the benefit to self. I really don't play well. I can't justify to others why it gives me so much pleasure. It is not a necessity and I don't do it "correctly." It just feeds my soul.

And that brings me back to beginning stamp collecting. I believe we sometimes need to quiet whatever inner voice tells us we're not accomplished enough at what we enjoy to justify doing it, whether it's working out at the gym, playing the piano or starting a new hobby. Stamp collecting can bring pleasure in so many different ways - I think any worries about proceeding "correctly" should be set aside. Begin where it gives pleasure and proceed from there. If you're enjoying sorting, handling, displaying stamps, set aside any fear of being incorrect or not a "real philatelist." Just go right ahead and get started. I'll be playing my piano.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Starter Gift...

I'd love to hear some ideas from our readers. A philatelist asked me, last week, what I recommended he buy his 70 great-great grandchildren for Christmas to get them started on this wonderful hobby which has brought him so much joy. Given the somewhat clear monetary restraints of multiplying by 70, what would your response be? We have starter kits with small worldwide albums, tongs, magnifier, etc., which make a ready-made solution. One could also put together a nice stockbook, a pair of tongs, and maybe blank album pages... I've spoken with serious philatelists whose greatest joy as a child was looking things up in the catalog - others who lived to fill the blanks in a Harris album. What do you recommend?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Soaking Stamps?

I have a bit of a beginner question. I have a number of cardboard boxes that were sent to me via USPS that have stamps that I'm interested in. What is the best method to remove them from the cardboard? I remember soaking stamps off envelopes as a kid but I can't recall how to safely remove them without damaging the stamps or improperly drying them. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 2, 2011

So you want to collect stamps??

After 30 years of living with a stamp collector, I have developed a HUGE respect for the joy I witness the hobby give those who engage in it. While I still am not among them, my new job allows me to support them. At Regency Superior Auctions in St. Louis, MO, I am the new product manager - selling catalogs, tongs, mounts, albums, stockbooks, hinges, magnifiers, etc., to facilitate those who collect. The joy is undeniable - it's source various and the "rules" of how to pursue the hobby are non-existent. That said, there are clear guidelines which will help you avoid disappointments and wonderful guidance from many who have walked the path before. I invite anyone taking up the hobby for the first time, or rejoining it after a hiatus, to share their questions/comments as we go along. It's fun!! Let's do it!!