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How to Buy Gifts for Stamp Collectors


We stamp collectors must admit that we’re pretty tough folks to buy gifts for. After all, our hobby seems a mysterious thing to many and beyond the ken of the average human being. So then, gentle stamp collector, stop reading this and bring your friend, loved one, or significant other to this screen and let them see a few good ideas in the stamp collector gift department.

What follows is a very unscientific list of things the philatelist on your gift list -- the one looking over your shoulder right now; tell him to go have a cup of tea -- might like to receive this holiday season.

A subscription to Linn’s Stamp News

Linn’s is the bible of philatelic journalism, the one with all the stamp news that’s fit to print. If he doesn't already get it, he'll be happy when he does.

A high value stamp he wouldn’t buy for himself

A duck stamp, the new express stamp, or if he’s a collector of foreign perhaps a handsome British definitive. You might have to shop around, but a list of postal administrations can help you zero in on something within his collecting area.

A new catalog

Most collectors can get by for a couple years without the most current catalog of their area. And in fact, in terms of economics, stamp values don’t have cataclysmic changes so a catalog shouldn’t be thought of as a financial tip sheet. Look at his bookshelf and if his most used catalog is older than three years, he’d appreciate the latest edition.

A collection of a country’s latest issues

Depending upon how diligent he is he may already have a certain number of stamps issued in the current year. But a yearbook that includes all the stamps, like the USPS’s 2010 Stamp Yearbook would make certain he has them all. As for the ones he’s already bought: he can use them for trading with other collectors or use them to send mail. For foreign new issues, the postal administrations list mentioned above can be of great assistance.

A book with a stamp collecting related subject

Believe it or not, your collector likes to do something after he has played with his stamps. He likes to read about stamps. One of many stamp themed books and novels may look boring to you, but with the ruthless buying and selling of stamps, the finding of rarities, and the history of the early days of collecting, though not your cup of tea, will read like a thriller to him.

A vacation to the country he collects

Granted not all collectors are country collectors, and topical collecting (that doesn’t mean you should buy him a bushel of apples if his topical is fruit on stamps!) is more popular than ever. But if you both take the trip, he already knows so much about where you’re going that you won’t need a tour guide and he will have a blast seeing the real things that he had only known as stamp subjects before. I think we can call that a win-win.

A weekend at a big show

And you can be a part of it...by not being a part of it. Let’s face it, it’s no fun looking at the back of your significant other’s head for four hours a day as he pours through albums and boxes to look for that elusive stamp. But you’re in a big town, with any number of attractions for the stamp widow or widower. The American Stamp Dealer’s Association is a good place to find out what major shows are coming up.

Stock Pages

Okay, I had to throw in something practical. Not very exciting, but as he will continue buying stamps he will always need someplace to put them -- not all stamps have places waiting for them in albums, after all. Thus, stock pages.

Membership in a philatelic club or organization

Start with the American Philatelic Society. It’s not just about U.S. stamps. And the benefits for members are many. Not the least part of the gift is that he’ll have hundreds of co-members to talk to about stamps. Of course the APS isn't the only game in town -- there are stamp clubs for every taste and pursuit.

Time alone with his stamps

My final suggestion won’t cost you a cent and you'll expend no effort in acquiring it: Cut him some slack from his chores -- offer him a day usually set aside for the honey do list where he won’t have to think about anything but his stamps. And don’t worry, he won’t sell his stamp collection before you gift him, like in that O. Henry story. And even if he does, it is probably because he’s about to start a new collection anyway.

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