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Start collecting today

Here is a quick introduction to the world of philately, to help get your collection off to a good start.

What to collect

Countries and themes
Some people collect stamps just from one country, others pick a theme and follow it – referred to as ‘thematic’ collecting.

Themes are wide-ranging, from the mainstream to the specific and everything in between. Enter ‘thematic stamps’ in a search engine for almost endless possibilities.

Special products
When Royal Mail releases a new stamp set, it is often accompanied by special products that reveal the fascinating story behind the subject of each issue – with visuals and expert commentary – or even additional stamps and philatelic items. Look out for presentation packs, miniature sheets and more. At the very least, the stamps are presented on a ‘first day cover’ – an envelope with the stamps ‘cancelled’ by a specially designed postmark.

Basic equipment

The stamp album is a showcase for your collection. There are hundreds of different types – for stamps, first day covers, miniature sheets and more – and a wide range of prices to suit your budget.
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These small, hinged pieces of gummed paper can be used to neatly affix stamps to the pages of an album. Avoid using glue or sticky tape, as they can damage stamps.

Mounts are clear plastic pockets that hold your stamps and keep them well preserved. They offer a simple alternative to hinges.

Use flat-ended stamp tweezers for mounting and handling stamps – touching stamps directly can cause damage.

Magnifiers give you close-up clarity – perfect for admiring your stamps and making mounting easier. The choice is wide: a traditional magnifying glass, magnifiers with lights, tweezer-mounted lenses, and even microscopes that take digital photos – which can then be transferred to a computer for storage.

Join the club

Share your enthusiasm and learn from more experienced collectors at a stamp club. Find your local one through the Association of British Philatelic Societies.

Keep up to date

The British Philatelic Bulletin, a monthly magazine, gives you the latest on new Royal Mail stamp issues, expert comment, stories behind the stamps and fascinating philatelic history and heritage. Subscribe here.

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