You've collected stamps before, as a youth. It was all pretty simple -- you got your stamps sent to you from one of the big approval companies like Mystic or Littletown. Or you got friends and family to save their envelopes for you. Or you built up your courage and visited stamp shops where you stood with your 75 cents to spend looking at stamps on display that had price tags of hundreds of dollars.
Stamps March Along With Time
Then life came around and your stamps were forgotten for ten, maybe even twenty years. Now you want to get back into it. But you wonder how.
The stamp shop likely isn't there anymore -- most simple sales occur online. Your family's mail doesn't have stamps on it anymore -- everything is meters or printed permits. But the money that made you feel so small as a youngster unable to purchase anything beyond nickel and dime stamps? Well, now you do have one hundred dollars to spend! So you go to that stamp shop (somehow this one has survived all these years) you walk up to the counter and look for that hundred dollar stamp. The only problem is, now it costs $1,000.
So you feel like a kid again, deflated that your desire resides just beyond your reach. But remember what the Bible said: "You must be as children..." Yes, it was describing how to enter the kingdom of heaven, but being a part of the stamp collecting world is a sort of paradise for some.
When You Decide to Collect Stamps as an Adult
You might think you remember enough of your stamp collecting days. But much has changed since you bought your first packet of worldwide stamps and dutifully put them in your stamp album.
Here are some things that you didn't consider as a young collector that are now important considerations in becoming an adult stamp collector.
Condition -- What did you keep your stamps in when you were a kid? Hopefully you had a nice album, though many kids who considered themselves stamp collectors just threw them in a cigar box. Those kids don't usually come back to the hobby though.
Albums -- If you used an album you probably used cellophane hinges to put your stamps in them (but hopefully only the used ones; messing up gum on mint stamps is a major no-no). Today, mint stamps must be put in mounts before they go in your album.
Organization -- See Albums above for the number one method of organizing your stamps. If you're one of those who feels somewhat constrained by the pre-printed albums, print your own pages and make you album a DIY masterpiece.
Budget -- One assumes you make more money as an adult than you did on the receiving end of an allowance when you were a kid. Prepare to spend some of that money, but not just on stamps. See the tip above on albums and mounts. Add stock books to the mix for duplicates, overflow and those stamp items that don't fit into your collection but that have somehow found their way into your philatelic life.
Enjoyment -- When you were a kid you may not have wanted to do any more learning outside of school. Now, you can research your stamps to understand why they exist or, what propaganda they represent. And as you've developed tastes above those of a kid, you can just enjoy the art.
Family Life -- You disappeared to your room as a kid to do your stamping; use the hobby as an adult to bring the family together. There's still entertainment to be had at the big stamp shows. From astronauts to authors to film stars, to first day of issue ceremonies to worldwide postal administrations to broaden your view (and - shhhh...educate your kids...) there is always enough going on at a stamp show that no one will be bored. Just don't get so caught up in things that you forget to visit the stamp dealers.