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Basic Philately Choosing a home for your first Staps

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Once you have acquired a few stamps, you will want a home for them. The purchase of this, your first album, will not require so much thought and consideration as will later albums.

You should regard this one as nothing more than a temporary home for your stamps until your experience increases and your future philatelic course can be charted.

There are several good begrimes albums available at about $10 and in various sizes, but do not get one with a capacity of more than 20,000 stamps.

You will likely have finished with this album long before its full capacity is utilized. Before you buy, look over all the popular albums. Check the amount and quality of the illustrations and the thickness of pages. Our preference would be for the one with the heaviest pages.

Almost all albums, with the exception of the more expensive blank albums, suffer from the defect of having pages of paper which is much too flimsy, so get the best available.

Interleaving Suggested

Another fault which you may have to accept in your first album could be that it has spaces for stamps on both sides of the page.

This is done in the interest of keeping size and cost down but it means that you must be very careful to see that your stamps do not become entangled.

If the album is loose-leafed, you should consider the use of interleaving. This is a thin glassine sheet which is punched to fit the binder in the same way as the pages and these are inserted between each page. You can buy packages of interleaving to fit most popular albums.

Illustrations Misunderstood

Regarding the illustrations in a beginner’s album, we have heard the complaint from new collectors that they do not get the stamps illustrated and that the stamps they do get are not shown.

They then blame the album publishers for doing a less-than-competent job of compiling his product.

Think for a moment. If only one page can be allocated to a specific country, the pictures on that page can represent only a small fraction of the country's total stamp output. Thus, it would be impossible to show them all, and it is certain that most collectors will obtain stamps that are not illustrated in their albums.

Additionally, these might well be stamps issued after the album was published. Even albums that have annual supplements published to keep them up to date can never include pictures of the very latest issues.

Identification Assistance

The pictures in your album do, however. serve a very useful purpose. They are intended to familiarize you with the general appearance and national characteristics of that country's stamps.

In many cases where the country name is not given in English, there will be a standard form of inscription, such as "Espana' for Spain."Island" for Iceland,''Magyar" for Hungary, and so on. And once you see a number of the country's stamps pictured you will find it a simple matter to identify those that are not shown, even if their design is otherwise quite different.

Some countries also use a national emblem which is common to virtually all their stamps and the pictures will give you a very good idea of how this will help you to establish their identity.

Another feature which makes album illustrations a front of stamp identifier is that the stamps of some countries have a distinctive appearance. So, use the album illustration, not as a mounting guide but as identification guide. They are not intended to denote a space for that stamps and that stamp only.

General Printed Albums

Even though you are still busy with your first album, it will do no harm to mention some of the albums you will use later on. First, there are the larger editions of the type you are using now.

If you decide to remain a general collector, you can gradually move up to the larger albums, or expand your collection by adding more volumes, or buying more pages and additional binders, if yours is of the loose-leaf type.

In fact, we would recommend that you do not consider even a first album unless it is loose-leaf, for this very reason.

While general collecting is by no means as popular as it used to be, there are still collectors who derive great pleasure from collecting everything they can from all countries of the world.

As your collecting preferences develop, you may find printed albums are less suited to your needs and then you will want to consider some form of blank album where you create pages to suit your collection. This is when collecting becomes really interesting as you determine for yourself what is to be included and how it will be arranged.

There are a number of blank albums available or you may want to use the popular 8 1/2 x 11 -inch blank page punched for a standard three-ring binder. The creation of such pages will be discussed in a later chapter.

But, all this will come in time. Do not allow your enthusiasm to carry you too far too fast. For the moment, concentrate on a simple initial home for your stamps and on learning as much as you can about the stamps you put into it. This period is still one of practice in stamp handling and identification.

The direction in which your collecting preferences lead you as your experience develops will determine the type of album to which you will graduate.

Ken Wood

Stamp Collector Newspaper