If you are interested in starting your stamp collection hobby, here are some common beginner mistakes to avoid:
Collection interest too wide:
When you first become interested in collecting stamps you often acquire way too many stamps from different countries, themes etc. Don’t make this mistake. Try to limit your collection to one country, area, or theme and decide whether you would like to buy used or new (mint) stamps. See Article: Choose your collection interest carefully.
Paying too much:
You will soon notice that it is not easy to determine if you are paying the correct price for stamps. An important step will probably be the acquisition of a stamp catalogue. Make sure you understand how to properly use a stamp catalogue. You will only rarely pay the full catalogue value of the stamp, even for perfect stamps. Many stamps in great condition can be acquired for between 20% and 40% of catalogue value. For some stamps you may have to pay a much higher percentage of the catalogue value. When you decide to acquire a more expensive stamp, do your research properly. Don’t just buy the first stamp you see.
Buying stamps in bad condition:
The prices in catalogues are for stamps in the best condition available. For newer issues, this means the stamp should be post office fresh. Things to look out for are gum, hinge marks, toning, rust, perforation, tears, repairs etc. A stamp with a fault isn’t necessarily without value but it may only be worth a fraction of what a good condition stamp is worth.
Stamps should never be handled with your hands: you will leave residue on the gum that may cause marks or future rusting. If you want to make sure your stamps don’t lose value, keep them in perfect condition.
Storing stamps incorrectly:
For many years collectors used hinges to attach stamps to album pages. Today, an unhinged stamp is worth a lot more than a previously hinged stamp. Never use hinges. Buy proper stamp albums or the glassine sheets specifically made for this purpose. These should be available online, or at your local dealer or stamp fair, and they are worth the price. Also make sure to keep your albums in a safe, dry, and dust-free place.
Fakes and forgeries:
Due to the high value of some stamps, people have created many fakes and forgeries over the years. It is not always easy for a novice to distinguish between genuine and fake stamps. Some forgeries are so good that most dealers won’t notice the difference. If you are acquiring a really high value item you can always send it for certification. Many sellers will allow you to return your purchase if it is proven to be a fake. Also, do some research on the stamp you are interested in, since some issues are known for forgeries.