A Kids Guide to Stamp Collecting

Views 1 Like Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
A Kids' Guide to Stamp Collecting

One of the most common hobbies across all age groups is acquiring and maintaining a collection of postage stamps,, often known as philately, which is technically the process of studying stamps. Anyone can become a stamp collector or philatelist. The activity is not expensive to begin, unlike many other collections. Stamp collecting does not require any unique ability and is a hobby that people can enjoy regardless of the season. A short list of some well known stamp collectors includes King George V; musicians John Lennon and Freddie Mercury; sea explorer, Jacques Cousteau; and tennis player, Maria Sharapova.

The area of stamp collecting includes posted envelopes, postage labels, Christmas seals, revenue markings, and other non-postage items known as cinderellas.. When considering the collecting of postage stamps and how it applies to children, it is useful to start with a brief history of the development of the postage stamp and how the practise of stamp collecting began. The collector should appreciate the beneficial reasons for collecting stamps, along with issues that are relevant to kids, and how to acquire new and old postage stamps easily. Stamps of all kinds can be found on eBay..

History of the Postage Stamp

The first postage stamp was issued in the United Kingdom on 1 May 1840 as part of a number of postal reforms initiated by Sir Rowland Hill. Before this time, the recipient paid the postage on receipt of a delivery. The stamp simplified the handling of post and completely eliminated financial transactions as a direct part of the delivery process. The first stamp was known as the Penny Black.. There was no indication on stamps that they originated in the United Kingdom as this was the only country using them. To this day, the United Kingdom remains the only country without any national identification on its postage stamps. By the 1860s, most other countries had begun using stamps.

The day-to-day use of postage stamps has experienced a steep decline since the end of the twentieth century, as a great deal of paper-based post has been replaced by electronic mail that is both faster and less expensive. Nonetheless, stamps remain a necessity for some types of post including traditional handwritten letters, formal invitations, and original or legal documents that cannot be duplicated.

Origins of Stamp Collecting

People of all ages have been creating interesting collections since the start of recorded history. Postage stamps have a unique appeal. Like coins, they are identified with almost every country. However, there is a far wider variety of stamps than coins: it is much easier and less costly to produce a batch of paper stamps than it is to mint a new coin. This results in a stamps in every conceivable colour combination, commemorating a wide array of people, places, and events.

The Royal Philatelic Society of London, established in 1869, is the oldest stamp collection and education organisation in the world. It offer updates and other information to anyone interested in stamp collecting.

Postage stamps are not only a means of paying for the transfer of post; they are also miniature works of art. Like many pieces of art, they are produced in limited quantities and have an unlimited number of subjects to display. The number of stamps produced and their subject makes some stamps more collectible than others. As the use of stamps and standard post in general is declining, this may prove to be the best time for kids to become involved in this unique hobby.

Benefits of Stamp Collecting for Kids

Children are often drawn to stamp collecting in a similar way as they are drawn to collecting coins, stickers, or social media friends. For kids, the shear volume of the collection means more than the quality or scarcity of the stamps. It is a good idea to begin with a stamp album to contain their interest. Some of these have a defined number of pages and others are expandable.

Children can be encouraged to collect stamps solely for their personal enjoyment, not as a means of growing the collection into something of future value. The chances of any stamp collection ever containing even one stamp that would provide significant monetary return is very small. Over 10,000 new stamp issues are produced each year, many of those primarily for the purpose of stimulating collectability. Some are produced only for collectors and have no postage value at all.

Stamp collecting can be a useful learning tool as it can encourage an interest in notable people and events. Kids can share the brightly coloured images with friends, which in turn stimulates more research that may spark other interests.

Rare Stamps for Kids' Collections

The rarest and most valuable stamps are not only the oldest, but often those that have a noticeable flaw or are in some other way atypical. Many reproductions of unique stamps are created to enable kids to add a replica to their collections.

One of the most often cited examples of a non-UK flawed stamp is the "Inverted Jenny" that depicts an upside down biplane issued in the United States in 1918. During those days, a sheet of stamps had to be run through the printer twice as there were two colours and two separate images to copy. So, it was easy to mistakenly run the sheet through in the wrong direction the second time.

The table below describes some of the most rare and valuable British stamps ever produced, many from British colonies of the nineteenth century:


Source Country and Year

Interesting Aspect

Original Penny Black

United Kingdom, 1840

Black background hid the red postmark


British Guiana, 1850

Produced for one year only, while awaiting official stamps from London

Scinde Dawk

India, 1852

India's first stamp

Circular design

Inverted Head Four Annas

India, 1854

Printed with an upside down effigy of Queen Victoria

1 Cent Magenta

British Guiana, 1856

Only stamp known to exist with an octagonal shape

There are a great number of rare and flawed stamp examples. Some may be stored in someone's attic awaiting discovery.

Stamp Shapes and Types of Materials

Like adults, children find the wide variety of stamp shapes and sizes to be particularly attractive. While the original and still most common shape is the vertical rectangle, there have been many variations over the years. The materials used have had an interesting history.

The United Kingdom issued a stamp in 2001 that emitted the scent of eucalyptus when scratched. Some examples of materials other than the paper used to print most stamps include embossed foil, plastic, lace, and even wood.

Buying Stamps for Kids' Collections on eBay

To find any type of stamp or accessories to help with collecting, begin your search on the eBay home page.. On that page, and every eBay page, is a handy search tool that takes you directly to the items that you want. If you are looking for astamp from Great Britain, for example, enter the phrase "Great Britain stamps&" into the field. This takes you to every current listing on eBay. Then, you can narrow the search based on various features of the stamp, such as its colour. eBay's Search Tips is a good place to learn more about ways to search the website.


Many kids require very little encouragement to get them started on collecting just about anything. For those who wish to bring the fascinating hobby of stamp collecting to the attention of a child, the best way is to purchase a stamp album or an inexpensive, yet unique postal publication to whet his or her appetite. When a child realises how interesting the activity can be, they will be fascinated by stamp collecting.

eBay provides instant access to a wide variety of stamps, whereas in the past, if there was no local shop that specialised in philately, it was very difficult to find stamps. Before online retailing, it was also far more expensive for the seller of stamps to make their awareness known, which would be reflected in the price. A kid starting a stamp collection can use eBay to buy a stamp that was produced many years ago for an affordable price. Unfortunately, with modern postal services, it may arrive with only a postmark, and not a stamp to add to the collection.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides