No matter what you are collecting, you will probably always be missing stamps that are just too expensive or scarce too find.
- For most countries, there will be some early issues and varieties that you may never own.
- For most themes there are some very scarce items (e.g. if you are collecting bird stamps, you would have to be a very rich man to collect 90% of all possible issues).
You can start your stamp collection with very limited funds, or you can spend thousands of dollars on this hobby. You can also buy stamps as an alternative investment. Just make sure that you don’t have unrealistic expectations.
Starting your stamp collection with zero or very limited funds:
- You don’t need funds to start your stamp collection. The easiest way to start would be to acquire as many used stamps you can lay your hands upon. Ask your family and friends to save all their envelopes with used stamps for you. In addition, ask some of the local businesses to keep their envelopes for you, as some receive hundreds of envelopes monthly.
- One of your older family members may have a stamp collection that he/she would be willing to part with if they know that you show sufficient interest and will not neglect the items they have collected over years.
- You can buy collector packs from stamp dealers. Many dealers sell stamps in bulk for a low price. You can find collectors packs with 100+ stamps sorted by theme or country for very low prices (from $1 to $5).
- Attend a stamp auction or have a look at online auctions. You will often find kiloware (many used stamps still on paper), bulk listings, or boxes containing unsorted stamps at low prices. This can give your collection a kick start.
- Starting your collection this way can be a lot of fun, but unfortunately your stamp collection will probably not have a lot of value. Sorting and classifying your stamps should add a little value however. And there are always exceptions. Finding something special and scarce is always a possibility.
- Sometimes, even a new issue can quickly accumulate in value:
- If only a few stamps were used before an issue was redrawn by the postal authority, this will become a scarce item and can immediately see its value increase dramatically.
- Some stamps contain a fault (e.g. printing or perforation error), and you may be lucky enough to acquire one of these stamps in a used condition. This will become a scarce item and can immediately increase in value.
- It is also possible to luck into a valuable stamp in an auction lot, collector’s pack, or box of bulk stamps that the previous owner ad other buyers didn’t realize the value of.
Most collectors probably fall into this category. You have identified certain areas of interest for your stamp collection and you know what to look out for. You frequently spend your extra cash acquiring new items missing from your collections. You will also buy auction lots when you notice some value, and in some instances remove items that you require and sell the balance.
You are not spending thousands of dollars on your hobby but you are building up your collection steadily. Your collection will probably be continuously accumulating in value, and you should start considering including your stamp collection in your testament.
Your stamp collection has become an investment, even though that was not your original intention. You will also start considering spending more of your income allocated for investment on high value stamps.
Collecting stamps with investment value in mind:
Stamps can be a great investment as financial return has been very good over time. If you want to acquire stamps as an investment, there are many things to consider to ensure you invest wisely. Please see the article on “Stamps as alternative investment”