Stamp Collecting

Stamp collecting has been around for as long as stamps have been printed, and is a fun and enduring hobby. It's easy to get started by simply keeping your collection focused and staying involved in the stamp collecting world. You'll find a large selection of rare and collectable stamps on eBay Australia.

Choosing stamps

With countless types of stamps available you have an enormous selection from which to choose. These tips should help you get started on the stamps that are right for you.

It's easier to get started with stamp collecting if you choose recent stamps. They are less expensive, more readily available, and can generally be found in good quality.

Some collectors begin by collecting a specific kind of stamp, from stamps of planes or Christmas stamps to stamps of birds or kangaroos.

Other collectors may choose to collect stamps from a specific country, region or state.

Some decide to only collect stamps from a particular time. For example you may only wish to collect pre-decimal Australian stamps from 1901 to 1965. Altenatively you may prefer to collect decimal Australian stamps.

Decide if you want to collect cancelled or mint stamps. Mint stamps are stamps that are pristine and have not been used. They generally fetch more money at auction, but cancelled stamps (stamps that have been used and stamped by the post office) have served their purpose, which some collectors prefer.

Buy a complete set

When buying a set of stamps, it's best to buy a complete set. If one particular stamp is hard to find, you risk having to buy a complete set at a later date to get that one rare stamp.
Stamp albums, hinges, mounts and other stamp supplies help you properly handle and store your stamps.

• Stamp albums: Quality stamp albums allow you to protect, organise, and display your stamps. Good-quality albums should have thick pages and acid-free paper.

• Hinges: Stamp hinges are small rectangular pieces of paper used to affix stamps to an album. Rather than directly putting the stamp on the page, the hinge is coated with a substance that makes it easier to remove.

• Mounts: You slide stamps into mounts, thin sleeves typically reserved for more expensive stamps. Instead of disturbing the original gum of the stamp by affixing it to a hinge, the whole mount is put on the page, and the stamps are placed in the mount.

• Magnifying lens: These can help you examine the quality and detail of your stamps.

• Stamp publications: The value of stamps doesn’t change very quickly. Browse through stamp publications and stamp catalogues to find out what kind of stamps are in circulation and an estimate of their current value.

• Tongs: Avoid touching your stamps with your fingers. Finger oils can actually damage the stamp over time. Using tongs will ensure that your stamp will stay oil-free.

Learn abbreviations

There are many terms specific to stamp-collecting (also called "philatelic") circles. Stamp collecting enthusiasts would be very familiar with these terms. Common philatelic terms include:

• Crease: A fold in the stamp. Folds can be rated from faint to heavy and can sometimes be pressed or ironed out.
• Fading: Lightened ink due to natural causes.
• Staining: Discolouration of a stamp’s colour.
• Imperforate stamp: Stamps originally sold without perforations.
• Reperforated stamps: Addition of perforations to defraud collectors.
• Trimmed perforations: The stamp’s perforations have been trimmed since its issue.
• Natural translucency: This is a condition often confused with a thin spot. It is usually ignored.
• Pinhole: A tiny hole that light can be seen through.
• Original gum: A stamp with gum that is in the same condition as it was when applied by the manufacturer.
• Previously hinged: The gum on the stamp is original, but it has disturbances that have happened since printing. This could either be due to natural causes or indicate a sign of tampering.
• Redistributed original gum: The original gum has been redistributed across the back of the stamp so as to hide any gum imperfections.
• Regummed: New gum has been added to the stamp.
• Repair: Any attempt to cover previous damage.
• Scrape: Fibre disturbance caused by a surface abrasion.

Stamp sellers on eBay Australia commonly use abbreviations to describe the condition of a stamp. Common abbreviations you may come across while shopping for stamps on eBay Australia include:

• MUH: Mint unhinged, Mint never Hinged or Unmounted Mint
• MLH: Mint Lightly Hinged
• Unused: Mint or Uncancelled without gum
• Superb: Perfect
• GU: Good Used
• FU: Fine Used
• VFU: Very Fine Used
• U: Used
• Wmk: Watermark
• OS: Official Service
• Perf: Perforation
• Imperf: Imperforate

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