Stamp collecting is a hobby that has existed for generations, going back to the mid-1800s just a few decades after the first postage stamps were produced. Also called philately, which is specifically the study of stamps and postal history, this hobby is among the most fulfilling and fascinating ones that are still somewhat common. Although this hobby is on the decline due to an aging customer base and an increasingly fast-paced world not being friendly to the slower activities of life, it still is one that very easily connects to history. With each stamp there is a story. There is the history of the stamp itself. Why was it produced at that time? Who was the audience? Then, there is what the stamp depicts. What did the person or event shown signify? There are also other forms of stamps to collect. One of the most common is first day of issue covers, where a special cancellation is used to show the stamp was purchased on the first day it was bought. The envelope it is on usually also shows artwork to commemorate the event. All of these factors makes stamp collecting a unique and fascinating hobby, and one with endless possibility.
I myself first encountered stamp collecting on YouTube earlier this year. I was looking through unrelated videos around four months ago until I came upon a channel with a man showing the viewers his collection. My interest was piqued, and I realized that I had some stamps already, in particular a series of Star Trek Forever stamps. Almost immediately I enjoyed closely examining them, looking up their history, and simply enjoying the artwork. Very quickly I began to look into collecting more stamps. I spent a big portion of that day researching local shops to see if any carried stamps. In addition to that, I ordered my first Lighthouse Stamp Album. When that arrived along with a few other stamps I ordered on Amazon, I quickly went to work organizing them. Each stamp had a story, a history, and I wanted to know about it. One YouTube channel in particular really guided me. Exploring Stamps, whose third season began just a few days ago, is about a philatelist selecting a stamp at random and exploring its history, and even traveling to the locales they depict. For any beginner, this series is a necessity, and for anyone who has been collecting for a while, it is still an interesting series about the hobby.
Currently, I am in the midst of filling my second album. For Christmas, my grandmother got me several additional stamp albums and two bags of five hundred international stamps. In addition to the bag I already received for my birthday a month before, this gave me the herculean task of sorting through the stamps and placing them in my album. Every night I make a point to fill out a few rows in my album, especially with such a large backlog. However, that nightly activity has proved to be therapeutic and has a calming effect. Among the group of stamps that I am currently sifting through includes a significant amount of stamps from Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which have filled countless pages of my album. In addition to that, the era of the Second World War is one that fascinates me the most, including stamps from occupied nations and the Allies who used stamps as propaganda during the conflict. One area I am especially interested in is North Korea, although I have yet to search for them, as it feels unethical to have cash flowing into the hands of that regime.
For anyone looking for a new hobby, stamp collecting is one of the most relaxing and interesting ones I can think of. There is an entire community of philatelists and collectors who share this common hobby, all contributing in some capacity to keeping it alive. And it is a hobby that can be customized to any type of collector. Some people simply collect stamps from specific events or time periods. Others collect stamps of trains, spaceships, or from their favorite television series or film. For young people part of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, it can earn them a merit badge, and maybe even be the bedrock of a project in a history class. For me, personally, I collect any stamps that look interesting. Although the Second World War has always been a subject I have been fascinated with, the point of my collecting is to learn more about the world around me. For that reason, I have been learning about nations I know almost nothing about, their histories, their people, their heroes, and other aspects of their lives. That is why stamp collecting is such a joyful and exciting hobby.