Getting Started with Stamp Collecting

for pre-teens

A hobby is something you like to do on a rainy day, when you can't go outside with your friends to play. Saving stuff as a hobby is lots of fun, especially if the stuff is pretty and interesting. Kids can save or collect lots of things, like sports cards, coins, dolls, action figures, rock group posters, and postage stamps. Stamps that you can buy at the Post Office and that are used on letters and parcels are both pretty and interesting. And they can be lot's cheaper than saving some things, like cars!!

Look at these stamps! Some show pretty scenes, some show sports, some show space craft and some show pretty flowers or birds.

You can save these kinds of stamps or even many other kinds of stamps.

Maybe you can get an older person to help get you started. You might even have someone helping you read what is on this Internet site. But you don't need anyone who knows about stamp saving. It's very easy to learn!

First, you need some stamps. Be sure to get permission before you start looking through drawers and boxes in the basement, trying to find envelopes with stamps on them! Most people start by saving stamps that have already been "used" in the mail. You can also save stamps that have never been "used", and you call those "mint" stamps.

Which of these two stamps is "used"? Which one is "mint"?

Mint stamp Used stamp

The stamp on the left is "mint", although it has a few dirty marks on it. Later on, you will learn that it is better to keep your stamps clean. This stamp has glue on the back that you can see if you turn the stamp over. The other stamp has been "cancelled" at the Post Office after the letter it was "used" on was mailed. So, we call it "used". The Post Office does that to make sure the stamp won't be used again on another letter.

Look again at the last two stamps. If you collect "mint" stamps, you might not like this example, because it just doesn't look clean. Also, the stamp "picture" is not in the center of the stamp - you can see it is closer to the bottom than to the top. If you collect "used" stamps, you might really like the "used" example because it is bright, well-centered and you can read the postmark. Later, we will talk about the "condition" of stamps.

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