When you first become interested in collecting stamps you often acquire way too many of them from different countries, themes, etc. I would guess that most collectors have stories to tell of purchases they later regretted. It is very easy to quickly acquire stacks and stacks of albums and stamps that can result in total chaos. Sorting stamps is a very time consuming exercise.
Decide what you want to collect and stick to that. Your collection interest will probably develop and change over time as you become more experienced.
There are so many different areas of interest, but these are some that you may consider.
Collection by country:
- Collect stamps from one country (e.g. South Africa, USA, France, etc.)
- Starting a worldwide collection is not recommended, but if you are doing it purely for fun there is nothing wrong with it.
Collection by theme/topic:
- We call these thematical or topical collections. This has become a very popular way to collect stamps. If you have another hobby or area of interest, it is very easy and enjoyable to build a stamp collection around it. You can basically build a thematic collection around almost any theme.
- Some examples to get you thinking:
- Stamps with images of birds, butterflies, and fish are some of the most popular thematic collections.
- Collect stamps of your favourite animals, e.g. elephants, lions, cats, dogs, etc.
- Collect sport stamps, or stamps with your favourite sport as theme, e.g. golf, soccer, chess or cricket. You can also collect stamps of sporting events such as the Olympic Games, Soccer World cup, etc.
- Collect stamps of your favourite transport method, e.g. trains, ships, space, motor cars.
- Here are more themes to get you thinking: Famous person (e.g. Nelson Mandela), Arts, Architecture, Religion, Gemstones, Music, Maps on stamps, Stamps on stamps, etc.
- You can also develop collections of themes within themes by progressing to a deeper level of specialization. For example, try to collect one type of bird (e.g. owls or eagles), one type of dog (e.g. bullterrier), etc.
- There are so many options. No matter what you can think of there is probably another person somewhere in the world collecting the same theme.
- For many themes, especially the most popular ones, free websites exist where you can find lists and images of all the stamps available. This makes the job of finding your stamps so much easier.
Collection by issue:
- Many collectors will try to collect stamps from a joint issue between different countries. Examples of these are King George stamps from Commonwealth countries, or collecting Omnibus issues like the Silver Jubilee or Royal Silver Wedding issues. In the case of the Royal Silver Wedding issue of 1948/9, a set of two similar stamps was issued for 69 countries, and collectors will try to collect all 69 different sets.