How to specialise in stamp collecting
After a time you may realise that to attempt to collect stamps of all the world is all very well, but that there are so many hundreds of thousands of them that a lifetime or a fortune to spend will not be enough. So you begin to specialise. Many young collectors look only for British stamps. Others concentrate on British Colonials, while other chase American issues, or those, say, of the many picturesque French colonies. Only by specialisation can you hope to build up sets worth the name.
A set means all the values of a certain type of stamp, from the lowest to the highest, but to collect stamps is only the beginning of the fun. You must study them and learn all you can about them. The shades of various issues of the same stamp often difter. The printer has altered, very slightly, their ink. Shade cards are published which, by giving you about a hundred stamps in various colours, each with the official name of the tint beneath it, help you to trace up the date, value and history of your stamp. To do this delightful bit of sleuthing you must have a stamp catalogue. A splendid abridged edition of Messrs. Stanley Gibbons great catalogue is published annually. It is a marvelous investment. When you have a stamp about which you are doubtful you just look it up in the catalogue, and there is its picture, notes about its peculiarities, if any, the date of its issue, its value to-day, both in used and unused conditions and particulars of the number of stamps in the full set of that issue, with their colours and values. It is one of the most fascinating of pastimes to trace through the catalogues the value and identity of an unusual or unfamiliar stamp. What pleasant shocks sometimes come to the collector, too. To take an example from the writer’s own experience – I possessed of a number of old British stamps, and brought them home to add to a childhood collection. One was a large stamp of face value ten shillings. It had the young Queen Victoria on it, and was printed in blue. We set to work with our catalogue to find its present-day value. We found that had the stamp been printed on blued paper it would have been worth more. It was on white paper, however, but all the same we were overjoyed to find its value was more than expected, especially as it has cost less than that in the first place. In another case it was only by holding a stamp up to a strong light and examining the watermark that we found it was worth more than we had hoped. There had been two issues of this stamp, but on one the watermark an anchor differed from the anchor on the other. We had the stamp that was worth quite a bit of cash but had thought it a cheaper one.
What will you specialise in?