Stamp collecting is one of most fascinating hobbies

Owner of GB Antiques Allan Blackburn.
Owner of GB Antiques Allan Blackburn.

Many people ask me what is the most popular thing people collect.

It’s a really hard one to answer. Usually people’s collections are dictated by how much they can afford to spend on their ‘hobby’ and also how much space they have to store and display their collection.

I think it’s for these reasons that things like stamps and coins have always been and continue to be so popular with collectors.

Philately, as stamp collecting is known, is one of the most fascinating and interesting of hobbies. It is within reach of almost all would-be collectors because stamps are generally inexpensive and so easy to store.

The first adhesive stamps were the famous Penny Blacks in 1849 which revolutionised communication. Until then, the distance a letter travelled determined how much postage was paid, so sending a postcard from Preston to London was very expensive.

This changed with the advent of the Penny Black, letters could be sent anywhere in the country for just one penny.

The value of stamps is based on many different factors; stamps in mint condition (unused) without wear or tears are much more valuable. With older stamps, those neatly cut with all four margins fetch better prices.

If a stamp has been used, a clear, un-smudged postmark is preferable. The rarity and theme of the stamp can also increase its worth. As a rule, the more appeal a stamp has, the higher its value.

The stamps origin also determines its value. Generally, stamps are worth more in their country of origin, although souvenir stamps tend to be popular with collectors.

Looking after stamps is important if you want to maintain their value – don’t stick them into an album and risk ruining them. The best way to look after them is to keep them in transparent paper pockets.

Today the stamp industry is large and stamp dealers can make a living buying and selling antique and rare stamps among the collecting community. I’ve had some lovely stamps in the centre for sale over the years, but collectors usually have an idea of what to buy and only buy what they like and any they see that are valuable.