It’s officially known as philately, but is commonly regarded as the hobby of kings. Whatever you call it stamp collecting a serious hobby that attracts millions of enthusiasts all over the world. Perhaps part of the reason philately has been referred to a king’s hobby is due to the amount of wealthy collectors who participate in the activity. However for as many kings and dignitaries that collect stamps there are an equal number of casual collectors and youth who find enjoyment in the hobby.
Collecting stamps is a lot like collecting baseball cards. To some, the goal of collecting is vigorously searching for that rare gem, an invaluable piece that offers significant monetary reward. It’s about exclusivity and specialization. For others it’s about following your heart and finding enjoyment in the experience of everyday life. To them it’s a matter of inclusion and comradery.
Stamp collectors use a variety of collection techniques. Some focus on obtaining stamps from particular era while others focus their searches geographically choosing to collect from a particular country or continent. Some casual philatelists even collect by genre focusing on the subject matter of the stamps, from famous persons to colors. When I was a young boy my uncle had a large collection of stamps all dedicated to methods of air travel, from hot air balloons to bi-planes and world war two fighter jets. Aside from stamp collecting, his passion was obviously flying.
While philately can seem like a daunting and expensive hobby to beginners, it really doesn’t have to be. There are a few stamp collecting supplies required to get started, but it doesn’t take a whole lot to get started. Primarily all you need is a stamp album, a keen eye, an inquisitive mind, and a persistent attitude and you’re well on your way.
Another hobby that can seem expensive and overwhelming to the uninitiated is that of coin collecting. Also sometimes labeled as the hobby of kinds, coin collecting seems costly and exclusive. Many people envision a world where expert sellers and collectors feed off the naïve, treating collecting as a backdoor monetary system for exploitation. This is not so. Just as in any hobby or exchange, a few unethical bad apples can give the positive majority a bad name. The truth is most coin collectors are casual hobbyists with a common love for legal tender.
Coin collecting is sometimes confused with Numismatics, or the study of coins. While the two hobbies are similar, coin collecting does not have to be an adventure in economics and statistics. Rather many coin collectors enjoy the hobby due to its anthropological nature. Coin collecting is a chance to be a real life Indiana Jones, even if on a very small scale, discovering the art and currency of generations and civilizations gone by.
Coin collecting doesn’t have to be expensive to begin. It can be as simple as searching for all fifty US state coins. Arm yourself with a quality coin box and use your imagination. You can even start by trying to find pennies printed every year since 1900 by searching between the couch cushions, change jars, and even the give a penny take a penny trays at your local gas station. For those with a desire to build a collection slightly more rare and valuable, collector shows, online auction sites and resellers can be an excellent way to bolster a collection without breaking the bank. Of course, just as with stamps coin collecting can range from casual and inexpensive to a serious and costly hobby to maintain.
Whether its paper or metal, coins or stamps, collecting can be a fun and enjoyable hobby. If you are interested in either of these hobbies there is a plethora of information online designed specifically to help beginners. Start small, make friends, and most of all have fun, after all that is what a hobby is all about.