Unlike what many people believe, technology has come to help philately and here are our tips for stamp collecting in the XXI century.
The intention of sharing these tips for stamp collecting in the 21st century is to help make this hobby even more entertaining and at the same time take it to an even higher level of specialization.
One of the advantages – and disadvantages at the same time – that philately has as a hobby is that it has been in existence for more than 150 years and for most of the time it did not have drastic changes, until the arrival of technology (internet and email).
For a long time, mail was the most popular way of communication (long distance and business) both for having had a channel and improved processes through 2 centuries (XIX and XX).
Philately was for a long time a way of easy access to different areas of general culture such as politics, geography, history, art and sciences among others.
As expected, with internet making its entrance – and access to a long distance communication becoming almost immediately and free – the use of mail suffered a great impact and philately was not far behind.
We can quickly name other aspects that affected philately as a hobby:
• Access to long distance communication immediately.
• The low cost of electronic communication.
• The desire for immediate gratification and adoption of technology as a hobby by the new generations.
Although the entrance of technology to the field of hobbies affected philately, it was not all bad news. And we are here to see the positive side and use technology to improve and strengthen philately as much as possible.
1. More access to philatelic material. before the Internet, if we wanted to buy stamps, it could only be done in local stores and if you were lucky, you would receive auction catalogs by mail. Nowadays, curiously thanks to the same factor that affected philately – Internet -, we have access to thousands of pages where we can buy philately. Among the largest we can quote eBay, Delcampe and Amazon. And if you search in detail, you can find first-class material at a great price.
2. Buy accessories online. If it was previously difficult to find philatelic material locally, finding accessories was quite a challenge. As with the stamps, today we have access to hundreds of accessories at unbeatable prices. For example: Amazon has a wide variety of accessories. Also you can visit the Ultimate Stamp Collecting Supplies List.
3. Technological tools to study material. A few years ago, philatelic tools were quite rudimentary: magnifying glasses to see errors, manual perforation gauges and liquids to see watermarks among others. Nowadays it is quite different, thanks to technology. For example:
a. Instead of having to use magnifying glasses to see details on stamps, you can use digital microscopes or special smart phone lenses. This facilitates the observation of details without having to be holding the magnifying lens all the time. As easy as taking a picture and then observing the details on the screen.
b. To measure the perforations in stamps, the giant of philatelic supplies SAFE created the Perfotronic 2. It is an electronic device that can measure the perforations of a stamp with accuracy of 1/100 mm. Practically total accuracy when measuring perforations. And best of all, the handling and possibility of material damage is reduced.
c. Last but not least, is the SAFE watermark detector. Best of all: it does not use liquid watermark detector. Everything done electronically. Like the Perfotronic 2, it significantly reduces material handling and in this case there is no need to treat stamps with chemicals.
4. Sell remnants to have extra money to buy more material. It is no secret that when you collect stamps, you get duplicate material or material that you simply do not need. The interesting thing about all this is that there is always going to be someone who needs it. Whether through direct contact via email, philatelic forums or electronic auctions, you can sell that material and get more funds to do what we all want: buy more philatelic material!
5. Showcase your collections before exhibitions. THIS IS THE BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY FOR PHILATELY! Sorry to use capital letters, but I’m very excited about this point. For all those who participate in both national and international exhibitions, this tip is soon to become an almost mandatory practice for its effectiveness and ease for both, the collector and the judge. What is it about? Very easy, after completing the assembly of the collection, it is scanned (digitized) and published on a web page. The link is shared with the judges (or with the organizing committee to redirect them to the judges) so that they can study or analyze the collection before the exhibition. It is no secret to anyone that during the exhibitions the time of a judge or team of judges to assess the collections is quite reduced. By sending the collections in advance to the judges, we guarantee that during the event, when qualifying the collections, they will arrive with all the information we want them to have. And so, have a fair and supported qualification. Now, the ideal is to have a web site on web hosting provider (space on the internet) that is accessible and easy to use. That’s why I recommend A2 Hosting. This company offers packages at reasonable prices. The software to create and edit the web site is free (and the most used in the world). For more information about the plans, click here.
6. Have a blog to explain the rarity and importance of the material that is included in the collections. Linked to the previous point, having a blog (or digital diary) helps us to better explain our collections. We can go deeper into why a piece is considered rare; what are the varieties and errors of a stamp; the story behind an issue or a piece of postal history and any other features that we want to highlight from our collection. The blog can be held within the same web hosting of the previous point, so we recommend the same provider.
7. Digital collections. This is a trend that is growing rapidly in the philatelic world. It is quite simple and consists in collecting digital images instead of physical material. Although currently it does not have the general approval of the philatelic world, it is gaining more and more followers. Digital collections can be had locally on your computer or online on a web page. If so, as in points 5 and 6, we recommend the same provider.
8. Forums to request or exchange information. It has happened to all of us that at some point we have or get material that we do not know enough about. In the past it was quite complicated because if you did not know an expert on the subject, that doubt was almost impossible to solve. Thanks to the Internet, today everything is solved by going to forums such as StampCommunity, raising our question in the indicated sub-forum and in a matter of hours we will have several answers.
Clearly there can be many more tips for stamp collecting in the 21st century. The previously shared tips are those that we have used or heard before. If you have other advice, please share it in the comments section.