How I Started Collecting

I always enjoy hearing about how people got started collecting stamps; it’s one of my favorite features in the American Philatelist. Origin stories are fun and, I think, important.

Mine is perhaps a bit unusual. Nobody in my family collects stamps. I didn’t start as a seven-year-old. I started last year as a 28-year-old woman. I was going through a difficult time in my life and needed something to focus my attention. I wanted to start a collection, something I could add to over the years that would represent tangible achievement. I thought about dolls, but that would take up too much room in my small apartment. Plus I was (and still am) pretty financially limited, so dolls were too high priced. Of course, doll houses were right out. Classic cars, antique books, and Colonial-era samplers also got crossed off the list as cost prohibitive and space-eating. Stamps crossed my mind, but simultaneously, so did but everybody does that, ignoring the reality that I knew nobody who did that. I finally did a web search on lists of hobbies. Of course, stamp collecting was right up at the top. I thought, oh, what the heck, and started reading about it. And reading. And reading. Lying in bed searching the internet on my phone late one rather depressed and lonely night, I found the lovely and never-ending world of stamps.

And I’m so thankful. So, so thankful. It’s opened up a world I didn’t know existed, a world of countries and people and art and history, and, though I’m an introvert frightened by new social experiences, I am hoping for new friends as well.

This is my first stamp I bought online for my collection. 


I know it’s French, from 1997, because the stamp says so. Don’t you just love stamps with dates right on them? It’s Puss in Boots. And it’s everything I love in a stamp. I love stamps with one or two colors that were printed by plate instead of by computer. I’m aware this one probably wasn’t printed by plate, but it looks like it. The stamp is also whimsical and depicts a fairy tale, and I love fairy tale stamps (I’ll have to do a post on them at some point; I have some beauties).

This stamp is special to me because it was my first stamp I fell in love with and just had to have. I spent more on it than I probably should have, but I didn’t care. I think I ordered it that first night, right after I discovered all the stamps for sale on eBay.

Soon after, I ordered my stock book, and I got my mom started on her own collection. I also got my friend, who collected stamps as a child, back into collecting after a long hiatus.

So there’s my story. Not a grandpa and a little album, not a childhood interest turned adult obsession. Just a lonely night in which I realized I needed something to think about other than my problems, and I turned to something that, unknown to me, encompassed all the things I love: collections, history, art, culture, nature, paper items, writing, reading, studying…

It’s a good hobby.

Firsts for Me

My first post! Pretty exciting. I’m a pretty new collector, and I just got my first album in the mail today. It’s Mystic’s American Heritage album, the regular (not the hingeless) version, and it’s pretty fantastic. Not only does it have heavy pages and little photographs of each stamp for those of us who don’t have ready access to the Scott catalog, but nearly every stamp has a little accompanying paragraph telling about the subject matter or interesting info on the stamp itself. As a new collector, the 1000+ pages and three binders felt a little overwhelming at first, but I managed to affix a couple dozen stamps in less than two hours, so it’s not hard to use at all. Volume I contains pages for everything up into the 1980s, so there’s also not a ton of flipping back and forth.


My two 1893 Columbians were the first stamps to go in the album. It’s rather embarrassing, but I managed to stick in the first one both on the wrong page and upside-down, and so had to move it not once but twice. Nothing adverse happened, but it made me pretty nervous. 

I’m a fairly poor (finance-wise) collector, and am thankful for the affordable nature of my hobby. Being able to own a 122-year-old piece of history is pretty fantastic. I’m looking forward to filling many of the gaps in my pages, and having the first full page will be thrilling. 


And yes, they’re huge.