How to Get Stamps

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There are many ways to get stamps for a collection. Some are free, some are negotiable and some are not. The methods listed here cover the major methods. Each method is discussed in detail in the Buying & Selling Guides Section of this Web site.

Free from incoming Mail: There are many ways to get postage stamps for your collection. The most common method is to ask family, friends and neighbors to save them for you from their incoming mail at work and/or home. Tell them to save the whole envelope since you want to cut off the stamps yourself. This way, you can make certain that the stamp isn’t damaged but one of them trying to peal the stamp off or cut the envelope too close to the stamp.

Besides, if the envelope has an unusual postmark, you may want to save the whole envelope for your collection. It costs them nothing extra and you gain some nice items for your collection.

Definitive stamps will be the bulk of what is collected but unwanted stamps can be accumulated over a period of time and sold or traded as a lot.

If you know someone who works in an office, or some place that receives a lot of mail, especially from others places in the world, ask them to be on the lookout for stamps and save them for you.

My sister used to work for a government office that received mail from all over the world and she would cut the envelope leaving about a 1+ inch margin all the way around the stamp and postmark. She’d wait until she had a few accumulated the give them to me. Make sure they ask their manager if it’s ok. Some organizations and government agencies are very particular about the littlest things, even stamps and postmarks.

Recently, many thousands of letters arrived in the U. S. from Nigeria asking for money. It was found that many of the stamps used on these envelopes were forgeries and they may be a valuable collectible in the future.

It’s taken a while to get my family trained but now I receive regular piles of stamps and can-pop-tabs for charity (Shriner’s Hospitals)

The U.S.P.S.: This may be an obvious choice for new issues. It’s actually not always the most economical way to get them.

Local Stamp Clubs: Trade with or buy from other collectors in your area. This is a good way to get to know other people with similar interests and other local collectors can give you the low-down on local stamp shows and dealers.

Stamp Shows: Stamp shows which have a bourse can also is a good place to look for stamps that you need while meeting dealers and other collectors in the area.

Dealers: These can be a good source of philatelic materials and if the dealer has a good business going may be able to offer a decent selection at a good price. Some dealers will negotiate but most have a higher markup due to the additional overhead cost of running a brick-n-mortar store. Even so you should explore the shops available to you and get to know the people who run them.

Auctions: On and off line. Auctions come in many different types and can be tricky to get the hang of. You need to know what you’re looking for, what is being offered and what the going prices are. To get the feel for auction on or off line you may want to attend and watch a few before joining the action.

Approval Services: This is how many collectors; particularly in rural area got started in collecting. I started getting stamps from H.E. Harris and later from a dealer named Robert Wagner.

Mail Order: There are many good mail order stamp companies which periodically release catalogs or price lists. These are not usually negotiable prices but the bigger companies are consistent and stand behind their products and the quality advertised is fairly reliable.