Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monthly Report: Season of Celebration

It was exciting to witness our 3 years and our 3 month old enjoy all that is wonderful about Christmas especially in a year of turmoil and fear.

We have connected to a number of families this month who redefined or rediscovered the hobby of stamp collecting. Some of the firsts were a family from Latvia and a mentally handicapped adult.

Thankfully through the Internet and the Grace of God, opportunties that arise to serve our fellow citizens of the world will be met with starter-kits, information and good cheer.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stamp Preservation Hinges on Hope

Every so often you come across someone who reports a friend or relative is using scotch tape or even glue to affix stamps to paper. If there is any supreme rule in stamping: using anything other than hinges or mounts is an absolute no-no. Never ever ever ever.

I promptly wrote about the correct procedure and mailed out a packet of hinges. Hinges are small sticky cellophane strips that safely connect the back of the stamp to the front of an album page. Over the years they become dry and fall off but another can be placed on the stamp without any fear of damage.

If anyone needs any because they are going to traditional route of album pages verus vario pages let me know and we will include in the starter-kit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stamps on Paper: Soaking and Saving

One of the most fun and cost effective method to collect stamps is to clip them off envelopes from the general mail. When I was a child I would go to the travel agency with my father and he would get a bundle of envelopes they saved for him. In the bundle would be hundreds of stamps from around the world.
The following are time-test ways to save and collect these stamps:

1. Clip stamp from envelope using a scissor. Just cut around the envelope leaving as little paper
as possible without damaging the stamp.

2. Fill up a basin or bowl with warm water.

3. Toss your pile of stamps on paper (with faces upward) in the bowl and dunk them in the water.

4. Wait 15 minutes.

5. Manually, but gently, separate your stamps from the paper and place them on a series of
dry paper towels.

6. Once they have dried, press the stamps (because they curl) into the pages of a book (or you
can buy a stamp dryer book for the same purpose.

7. The next day remove stamps and determine which you want to keep and which you might want to trade or give away.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monthly Report: A Month To Be Thankful

Another fun and exciting month is coming to be close. Thanks so much for being part of the stamping family whom are learning and growing each and every day.

Don't forget we are being profiled next month in Collectors News in January 2009.

While I never envisioned the economy would be so shakey by this time of the year, my family and I, are overjoyed to continue to reach out to families in need of stamps for their children to start them on collecting-------all for free.

Looking forward to December, Christmas and more exciting international contacts.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wishing You All A Very Happy Thanksgiving

Please keep those questions and requests coming on through. Our family of stampers continues to grow from all corners of the universe. I wish you all a very happy thanksgiving. In these days crazy economy and crazier gas prices and just plain crazy people we should continue to refocus our efforts to spend time with our family.
Put aside the pettiness and learn to love again. That's what Thanksgiving is all about.
God Bless.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Building Stampers One Child At A Time

Building Stampers

In a more recent venture, KNS was able to supply a brand new stamp club consisting of home schooled children. We are both delighted and excited to hear about their learning experiences in the stamp world. We received a lovely card signed by all the little stampers. Thank you for keeping our wonderful pastime alive and well in the 21st century.

Protecting Children

Please keep those comments coming on the blog. We appreciate the insight and compliments received by comments and emails. I only ask that you make your free starter-kit requests via email and through an adult. KNS is all about helping parents help kids but we do not solicit, respond or communicate with underage children. I wouldn't allow my children and I ask you politely not to request us to make contact with your children. Perception is reality these days and we don't need the headache. Our thanks for your understanding.

Respecting the Process

Thanks for the inquires and requests but they really need to be via email. When you make a starter-kit via blog comment you first miss out on the email attachments necessary to help kids identify foreign stamps. Also you allow your home address to be broadcasted throughout the Internet and we are not responsible for people misusing it. By respecting the process you get the starter-kits, the attachments and complete privacy. We don't use your address except to mail you the stamps.

Thanks again for your support and understanding.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stamps Are Stories of Thanksgiving

It can be successfully argued that stamps are stories of thanksgiving. Each stamp brings its unique story of presence to the world at large. Look at our colourful country. Look at this beautiful animal specimen. Take to heart this ailment or disease that must defeated. Each stamp has such a message to deliver to a diverse but distracted citizenry.

I know we spoke about stamps being mini-national advertisements for tourism, business, politics, history, geography, science and ocassionally sports, but many wonderful things are coming out on stamps from emerging countries that are developing their own distinct voice to speak again to the world stage. Take for example, Slovenia:

The stamp above is a tiger moth and they are plentifuf in Slovenia but endangered in Northern Europe where night lighting and the destruction of plants at the edge of woods keep the moths from repopulating. This example is one of many that Slovenia can now address through the reliable vehicles of communication we know as stamps.

I have been taken by their stamps isssues of waterways, lighthouses, marshes, aquatic life, marine plants, the whole incredible living inventory that is lovely Slovenia and continue to wonder how many other natural treasures we miss because countries are at war, in chaos, too busy to explore because too busy trying to survive till tomorrow.

Folks, there are thousands of untold stories ready to be spun on the stamps in the approaching years as wars give to peace, and horror surrenders to hope. Right now the Congo is again sputtering towards slaughter but one day its people will win the right to be free and tell their own story through stamps. Science tells us nearly 25% of the area is unexplored. Just imagine the mysteries, artifacts, natural beauties to be found in a place often known for violence and cruelty.

I continue to expect stories of thanksgiving from every corner of the globe as people figure out that peace is the braver path to a good life and a surer path to a longer one as well. Stamps are stories of thanksgiving. Beyond the international scope I am describing here is also a local, personal, family thanksgiving with stamps that foster memories of loved ones passed on but still present in our hearts and stamp collections.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monthly Report: Collectors News Spotlights KNS

KNS is proud to announce our site, its efforts and its club president, Mark Rossi, is being featured in Collectors News a magazine that focuses on various aspects of collecting (toys, dolls, cards, stamps, etc.) The January 2009 issue will be examing the stamp collecting aspect of collectibles and KNS was chosen as an organization making a difference in the vital effort to keep stamp collecting alive for another enlightened generation. We sincerely thank them for spreading the good word. {Cover Issue is November 2008}

KNS is continuing to fine tune its effort to equip a children's hospital with a complete stamp collecting program. We also made another meaningful contribution of stamps to the Stamps for the Wounded program. Meanwhile we continue our main mission of assisting parents with free starter-kits one parent at a time. We welcome new members from Canada and India and thank everyone for their inquiries and questions. A special thank you for those kind members who leave comments on the blog articles.

As always I welcome parents to read the blog articles and discover what KNS is all about and how to go about setting up a basic inexpensive stamp collecting outfit for your child. This is also a good time to address a few issues that have risen:

1. Free starter-kits are available always. No expiration date. No until supplies run out.

2. I don't care about your martial status, political affiliation, religion or cultural background.If you are committed to getting your child interested in stamp collecting. We will help.

3. Please keep your questions relevant to helping parents help kids collect stamps. This is a family operation. Our time is precious.

4. Stamps Images. Some are in the Public Domain due to their age or country's liberal policy to promote their stamps or country's image. Others are used through Fair Use which allows stamp images to be utilized like book reviews. We are not selling anything hereand our articles only elevate stamp collecting. Period. Appreciate the concern but nothing's happening to the 20,000 auctions (with images) taking place on Ebay everyday. And those guys are actually making money. Hope that answers your questions. Enough said.

5. You need to provide your mailing address. I am still surprised on how many inquiries we get and how many turn down the offer of a free starter-kit because we need their mailing address. Folks, the stamps can't materialize through the internet. They have to be mailed through the postage system: a service also free of charge from KNS.

I wish you all a Happy Halloween. Keep those children safe. And rejoin us again in November.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We Continue To Serve Families: Free Starter-Kits

After a few months of log entries on the blog you begin to forget that the important introductory articles are not so visible anymore. I continue to get emails from parents believe the starter-kits were only a summer phenomena. They are not. They are forever. KNS continue to serve families seeking to introduce their children to the exciting world of stamp collecting.

The starter-kits contain 10 US stamps and 10 foreign stamps (each from a different country)
I have also began to include a credit card magnifer with each request (while supplies last.)

The parent also receives 5 information attachments that specify how to identify foreign stamps and how to understand various stamp definitions and terminology.

You can purchase inexpensively various Vario stock book pages and place them in a looseleaf and create your own stamp book. (There's a brief explanation in the welcome letter I send out.)

Or parents can download one or both of the following album pages presented free to collectors:

16 page kid album (from

{please kind in mind you need to have Adobe on your computer to open this up}
{warning: kid album is cute and useful but also uses a lot of black ink}

black album pages (from International Society of Worldwide Stamp Collectors)

{blank means blank --you have to title everything} (But these folks have a link to download
Adobe Acrobat for free)

Keep those email inquiries coming. Love to hear from everyone. Thanks again to Stamp Collecting Round-Up for directing parents to our site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Dad and Stamps: A Rose By Any Other Name

One of the most popular inquires we receive at KNS (next to requesting the free starter-kit) is what do you call someone who collects stamps?

If this were an SNL sketch a few of the answers would be "nerd," "geek", "a member of the non-dating community", etc., etc., but truth be told children in the United States do not collect stamps as much as adults. It is the mirror opposite throughout the world where governments help promote stamp collecting and stamp supplies can actually be found in regular department stores.

While submitting these inquires the answers the emailers also provided are curious insights into their knowledge or lack thereof: "stampers", "stampsters", "stamp hobbyists", "stamp collectors", and on and on. Some folks do not really care what it is called as long as they can enjoy its entertainment value and learn a valuable historical fact along the way.

My late father was a collector for nearly 50 years and held strong opinions about the King of Hobbies in the mid-70's which is when he first noticed stamp collecting was starting to decline in America. He noticed there was less about it on the children shows. He noticed stamps were beginning to be mocked on the game shows. It was becoming more a commercial specialty rather than a commercial staple in department stores. It was become more an intellectual pursuit rather than a passionate past time.

I remember attending stamp conventions at the United Nations with my father and listening to guys who looked like insurance agents declared they were "philatelists" and were going to rescue stamp collecting from the hands of schoolchildren and well-intentioned parents. I remember my father having some choice words for these "negative nitwits" as he called them. It was moments like these that shaped my father's opinion that stamp collecting was going underground and becoming for insular and exclusive after being overtaken by more popular forces in society such as rock n roll, movies and board games.

He used to say, "if I ever find out who ruined stamps, I will fire him, after I punch him out." I always laughed because it was obvious the companies involved never invested much in marketing or advertising. They depended on the word-of-mouth and the natural cultural inclinations to support a hobby "everyone just loved." Basically they depended on habit and faith and pocketed the ad money.

But I appreciated my dad's vigor and passion for the hobby he felt was dying from within and fast becoming an egghead luxury like water polo or shooting silly birds with bazookas. I wish he was still around to see how the Hobby of Kings has made a respectable comeback with the aid of technology and another generation wanting their children to learn real knowledge for a better day beyond the limited notions of violent video games and moronic music.

Philatelist, hobbyist, stamp collector, a rose by any other name is the craft we share with our children and the world shares with us. Who could ask for more.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fiction and Legends on Postage Stamps

One of my first collectable stamps was the Headless Horseman stamp blazing across my album page in bright orange against deep blue. I thought it strange until I realize they are actually promoting the writer Washington Irving----or were they?

At times, legends and monsters can make such a dramatic impact on the public imagination that it compels the postal authorities to include them on postage stamps. The Maldives include a picture representation of the legendary Scottish sea monster: The Loch Ness Monster.

The mountainous country of Bhutan is famous for mountain trekkers, dedicated hikers and a population so steeped in the Yeti (i.e. Abominable Snowman) tradition that nearly to a person they believe it is out there. Bhutan literature actually mentions the Yeti (i.e. missing link) nearly 1500 years old in ancient religious texts and histories.

The emerging Southeastern nation of Laos cling to the enduring legend of the Thunderbird which modern hunters are still seeking in the strong belief it is a genetic leftover from the dinosaur age.

The cynical among us often say these legendary depictions are merely the result of commercializing stamps for collectors in order to make profits for said producing countries. Yeah, so what. Many of these same countries snap photos of their beautiful shells, flowers and exotic animals and also reap financial rewards. Remember stamps can be art, news, politics, history, geography,--so why not plain fun.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October: Autumn Leaves and Halloween

Autumn is my favorite season. Always has been. Always will be. It even shades my art tastes and I like the browns and oranges in paintings. Strangely, there haven't been many Halloween stamps issued throughout the world. I was only able to locate five. Maybe we should petition for more. Ha.

Growing up Halloween was my favorite holiday--more so than Thanksgiving or Christmas. I couldn't wait to get out of school and into that costume, Batman, Frankenstein's Monster, Casper the Friend Ghost, etc. I grew up in the city and selling egg insurance 1 week in advance raised the funds necessary to buy the more expensive costume I craved--plus more. Every year I would have to clean a few windows but mostly it was profitable and fun.

Now I live in the suburbs and look back at the rows of orange leaves flooding the sidewalks to my grammar school with fond memories. I miss those days but I missed more the fact that my parents were rarely able to make the Halloween trek through the neighborhood. One or both often had to work late. I was usually assigned a neighborhood parent and went trick-or-treating with their kids.

Sometimes I felt my father was doing extra stamp collecting activities, such as field trips, with me to make up for those absences. All of this is going through my mind now that I have children and Halloween is fast approaching. I'm reliving those times with them and still thinking how I can improve being the best father I can possibly be.

When they grow up I won't worry if they miss those lovely autumn leaves, I just don't want them to miss me not being around. That is the best holiday gift any father can give his children.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monthly Report: International Communiques

First and foremost I would like to announce the birth of our second son. Thank you all for the supportive emails. I have been away from the blog for a few weeks due to heath complications of the mother and the child. Your kind words and prayers have been a source of additional strength.

Unlike the media doomsayers I still believe in this country and its currency. Thus I have a nice monetary stamp up here to keep the spirit alive. We'll make it through this silliness just like other challenges in the past. Don't bet against America.

The club has been making contact with international new outlets and other clubs to spread the word and discover what others are doing out there in their stamp world. I have been learning to appreciate the extensive expertise and passion of Indian collectors and their clubs. Very impressive sites, stamps and products. Plus it helps (me) they speak English. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I placed a few Indian stamp sites for others to explore and educate themselves.

We have also been putting together a proposal to support a few children's hospitals to assist very sick children with stamp collecting. One of the features is to include total kits that have vario pages, binders and credit card magnifiers. Children in these unfair circumstances need something positive to focus on. Perhaps something they can perform solitary in order to help them regain a sense of independence normally lost to chemo, medication, nursing and parades of people and programs also trying to lend a hand.

Welcome our friends from Canada. We are getting more inquires from that wonderful place high in the North. Always excited to hear from our international parents seeking to broaden their children's scope on education, history and world affairs. In so many instances parents worldwide often face the same issue: finding the best way to guide their children's past time in the most constructive manner. And many want to keep their children's minds out of the modern gutter of sex-laden and violent movies and video games. This hobby is one solution towards that end.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Promoting Public Health Through Postage Stamps

There's a long tradition of postal authorities using postage stamps to promote issues involving the public health. Stamps are also used to raise funds for disease-fighting entities such as "Easter Seals" or internationally "Various Charity Stamps." Recently China released "Earthquake Stamps" to raise money for the victims of the massive quake. And actually used the money to help the victims.

Ironically, there was actually resistance to placing "matters of private concern" on postage stamps. The feeling ran that it was exploitative of victims to express support of their condition. We now understand that publicity of such conditions, {Breast cancer, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, AIDs, etc} can dramatically assist sufferers by validating their experiences and rallying the medical community for treatments and cures.
There can be no higher social calling for stamps than promoting the public health in the United States and around the World. Though this is not confirmed I heard a story that suggested immunization shots were more acceptable in certain Third World countries after a stamp was released showing a child getting a shot. Maybe it's a stretch but the lowly stamp just might have saved thousands of lives around the globe.

Knocking down stigmas of terrible afflictions should truly be the province of the medical community but like anything today in the modern world you need exposure and quite frankly the news media prefer death and destruction over prevention and progress. I am personally proud to witness stamps being used in such a powerful and positive manner to help effect change in the community-at-large. I deeply disagree with the stamp purists (foreign and domestic) who rather stick monuments, military generals and exotic animals on every stamp ever printed. I have nothing against that and yet more can be done to allow stamps to become trusty vehicle and sharp instrument in the minds of those who need valuable information now.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Thoughts For Parents Of First-Time Stamp Collectors

Stamp collecting is a wonderful and creatively inspiring past time. It can also be a solitary. KNS (Kids Need Stamps) strives to bring parents together with children to make stamp collecting a shared joy; not another activity to shove them in the corner.

Consider the following thoughts:

1. Go the traditional route; buy some stamps (or get some here for free), buy a stockbook or buy a dedicated stamp album (US, World or a Single Country)

2. Collect Topicals: trains, planes, shells, animals, etc. and buy a stockbook

3. Buy some used stamps and create collages with other artwork, photos, letters, etc. (now this will ruin the stamps value but you will create something unique with its own value.

4. Buy some stamps (ones that mean something to you), mount them on a cardboard and place in small frames for hanging on the wall.

5. Dream up some other ideas but stay in the picture. There are times when we are the best parents when we are not on the sidelines. This is one of those times.

6. Seek advice if you are running out the ideas or don't have any to start. I will be happy to help and I am sure other folks on other sites will do the same.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Building Great Memories: Parent and Child

You probably heard the old adage, "be a parent to your child; not their friend. Otherwise it becomes very confusing when time for discipline." I know firsthand this statement is very true but like anything in one's life you cannot take it to the extreme. Too much parenting causes the child to shut off communication and turns your presence into a giant rule maker and not someone who listens or cares about their concerns--real or imagined. That's where stamp collecting comes into play.

As discussed previous in "fellowship" article, the parent/child relationship is strengthened in the area of trust when dealing with stamps. The child is allowed to learn from stamps by making their own decisions about what, how and where to collect. Each stamp session or lesson is another building block of fruitful memory the child carries the rest of their lives. Some of my finest memories of my father, may God rest his soul, revolve around stamp collecting. Our trips to New York stamp shows, the United Nations, pulling out the albums on unscheduled rainy days and just pouring hours into figuring out this and that about stamps and about each other. We were building great memories. My father was still my father but I felt deep down inside he figured out a way to be my friend for a few hours and that lightened the load for both of us considering our respective roles and responsibilities.

I think I got to be the grown-up by making decisions and my father got to be the kid again and sat back and enjoyed not having to direct every facet of every thing in the universe. I' m remembering what I learned then and applying it to my sons in the present day. I will never stop being a father since that role today is more critical than ever before but I will find ways to be his friend whenever possible and whenever it doesn't compromise my primary role. Stamp collecting is going to be another highly useful vehicle to communicate for all parties involved.

Another excellent stamp approach is to take the stamp collecting from the indoors of your home and bring it on the road. We went to museums (Navajo heritage), planetariums (space stamps), zoos (exotic animal stamps), stamp shows (United Nations), conventions (NYC), etc, etc. that spot-lighted the educational angle of stamps. These trips also built great memories that made stamp collecting an exciting adventure. It brought my father and I closer and suddenly made me realize how fortunate I was when other neighborhood kids complained how little they saw of their parents. Some of those kids went on to school problems, behavior problems and eventually legal problems. Neglect, in my opinion, is a form of abuse. Stay active, stay involved and your children will probably stay out of trouble. Stamps might just do the trick.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monthly Report: KNS Reaches Out and Grows

We are concluding our second successful month of providing parents, mentors and organizations the stamps and information necessary to launch their kids into the Hobby of Kings: stamp collecting. A big thanks again to
Lt. Col. Don from The Stamp Collecting Roundup
and Alex at The Stamp Collectors Corner

Yesterday KNS sent out its 50th starter-kit as well as outfitting an entire elementary classroom for stamp instruction and an entire troupe of 12 Boy Scouts. We also donated stamps to Stamps for the Wounded and Canadian Guide Dogs. KNS is considering an exciting proposal to assist a children's hospital ward.

KNS will continue to creatively reach out and meet the needs of individuals, parents, mentors and organizations that seek to interest children in stamp collecting. We have received a number of suggestions which serve to remind us of how many people surf and watch the Net these days. While I sincerely thank and have thanked each one for their wonderful idea I ask that you consider KNS cannot be everything to everyone nor do we ever intend to make that a goal.

I like the simple niche we always knew was present: parents, mentors and organizations in need of a basic boost to inspire them to get kids interested in stamp collecting, divert their attention from the technologically-confusing world, and bring them back to a place where art, history, science, geography and saving things of value is no longer a "geek phenomena" mocked on sitcoms and radio shows.

I would like to also thank everyone for the kind comments and compliments. My family and I are very pleased that our vision of assisting parents to help their children with stamp collecting is taking place right before our very eyes. And last, these starter-kits are really free. We do not solicit donations of any kind from anyone. If you want to donate used stamps, cut from envelopes, please send them to the organizations I listed on the site. They need and welcome such help.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Emergence of Ebay: Stamp Buyer Be Glad

The emergence of Ebay has been nothing short of an international phenomena. It's actually one of the few internet companies to survive the internet bubble implosion that wiped out billions of dollars and cast out thousands of tekkies into the unemployment lines of the 90's.

In a nutshell: How Ebay survived

Ebay permits anyone with a computer, digital camera and a product to place it online and potentially sell it in days, hours or minutes. The product can be new or a used item you found around the house, garage or attic. Some people actually go to yardsales and buy for pennies on the dollar and sell for dollars via auction. You can auction your item to the highest bidder via the auction process or outright sell it at a fixed higher price.

Impact on the stamping community

Ebay's influence on the stamping community is enormous; at any given day nearly 20,000 stamp-related auctions take place, making stamping the most active of any of its numerous detailed non-stamp categories. The Internet in general and Ebay in specific are directly responsible for resurrecting a worldwide hobby once perceived on the decline in America. It unites stamping communites, dealers, clubs, and organizations like nothing in the history of stamp collecting. Not all change is bad. Not all progress is at the expense of something else.

Advantages beginner collectors receive from Ebay

Virtually the same as the advanced collector. The specialization of sub-categories easily permits the beginner collector to zero in on the exact item they require be it, a stockbook, stamp album, stamp tongs, magnifier glass, stamp hinges, stamp mounts, etc. In many instances it might be less expensive to buy from an auction site (Ebay or one of the above listed) than from a stamp store or hobby shop. This is not guaranteed if you have the time and opportunity for comparison shopping between the (inter) Net and a (stamp) Store--definitely do so. Another great advantage is the advent of Paypal, a separate service (but now owned by Ebay) which enables you to pay the auction costs via credit credit or checking account quickly and safely. Paypal offers guaranteed money back if fraud occurs or item damaged or never shipped

By Accident and Design

The sub-categories for stamps on Ebay are the most extensive on any auction site on the Internet by virtual of it being the oldest and biggest. This feature is not only useful for beginning collectors in purchasing items but also in learning what entities produced stamps, what continent, language, etc. By accident and design the item arrangement serves as an educational resource as well as the descriptions many dealers/sellers decide to include with the auction. You can cut and paste this information on word doc and save it for your files. It comes in handy later for identification and cataloging.

Purchasing Stamps and Stamp Supplies

For the beginner collector who hasn't decided on a certain country or countries, theme, topic, etc. purchasing stamps on Ebay is very easy if you keep these tips in mind.

Buy in Lots (200, 500 or 1000) By purchasing in this manner you get a wide selection to study and help you decide what you want to collect. Or maybe you want to collect them all.

Postage and Handling: Handling charges are rare, but postage is another matter. It varies geographically depending on where the dealer lives and where you live. Note where the dealer resides from, if is in a foreign country you have to decide if the auction is worth your time (could take couple of weeks to receive it) to the extra cost of international postage. The cool advantage is often these dealers include their country's stamps on the envelope for you to cut, soak and save. U.S. dealers on the other hand can sometimes offer postage higher than necessary as a way to increase their profits. It really shouldn't cost any more than $3 to $4 for postage for a lot of 500 stamps. There are many auctions taking place so choose wisely by price of stamps, price of postage and geographical location (if time is of the essence.)

Stockbooks and Stamp Albums

Unlike the minor weight of stamps, hinges and mounts, stockbooks and stamp albums are heavier items and shipping charges can be nearly a third of the cost (for albums) and nearly a half (for stockbooks) of the item being shipped. Which is one of the reasons why I recommend people comparison shop if they have a stamp store in their community. You might save some serious postage. If the Internet is your only recourse then you should compare between auctions at Ebay and/or between Ebay competitors.

***NOTE: For the purposes of full disclosure, I am not a dealer nor have I ever sold anything on Ebay, but I have bought plenty for my personal stamp collection and therefore can easily testify to the experiences spelled out in this article. While we do not endorse any product or service (since we are not paid nor accept advertising) this site in good conscience will strongly recommend something of good value to its readers but not without also naming alternatives and competitors. The following are main competitors to the auction service Ebay---feel free to use them instead of or in conjunction with the subject of this blog article.

Amazon and Overstock also have their own auction platforms.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Fellowship of Stamping: Building Trust

The primary purpose of KNS (Kids Need Stamps) is to foster fellowship through stamp collecting by assisting parents and mentors with the tools necessary to kick-start this fascinating journey. While it's easy (and I don't mind doing it) to bash the modern distractions of video games, computer toys, and ipods---the deeper truth is more complex: we are parents must be engaged in our child's lives regardless of their past times. Without this positive attitude the superior educational value of stamp collecting is certain to fall short of its real impact.

Fellowship Stamping elicits wonder, knowledge, curiosity, and above all, an ample amount of joy due to the geniality of verbal communication, physical care taking of precious objects and the emotional satisfaction of building something new. Collections are built new; yet also fruitful relationships. I am a firm believer in attributing child behavior to the amount of time parents devote towards their kids well-being. There is a cause and effect. I've heard all the excuses and seen all the guilt-gifts parents often buy their kids, but in the very end, if you cannot devote the time in this dangerous day and age, your kid might wind up doing time.

I'm not trying to be a stamp collecting Dr. Phil but we must reconsider a great deal of what we have cast aside in this society in the past 30 years. The reduction of gym classes is connected to higher rates of child obesity. The easy availability of soda, candy and snacks has increased juvenile diabetes. The major crackdown in drugs and alcohol has definitely decreased those horrors but what have we allowed to replace them: television, video games, digital music and a distorted value of money is equally bad--it just takes longer to see the results, i.e. teenage years or worse still when they grow up and mimic parental neglect.

Kids need more attention these days than ever before; we can easily combat the poor role models by operating the opposite way and we can counter the lousy values out there with good values if we are prepared to stick to family activities that reinforce communication, truth, respect and love. Stamp collecting is one of those special activities that transcend the mere title of hobby because it harkens back to the old days when a parent, a sunlit room and a box of stamps were more important than all the fancy gadgets in the universe. We can have that again.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Impact of the Internet on Stamp Collecting

The impact of the Internet on stamp collecting is nothing less than -----enormous. Over the past few years and even past few weeks I have had verbal discussions and emails with friends, associates and admirers (a few not so admiring, oops) about this very subject. Generation X collectors, like myself, know the Internet resuscitated stamp collecting. By the mid-80's you couldn't find a stamp store in your community unless you lived in a major city. Stamp Shows were a once-in-a-year event often miles away from your home. That's a heck of a trip and a long wait to buy some supplies, stamps in lots, and trade shop talk with experienced dealers and collectors. To make things worse book stores stopped carrying stamp magazines making it harder to establish mail contact with stamp supply companies, stamp clubs, etc., etc. Thank God, for the local library which still carried hobby magazines of all types. For all intents and purposes stamp collecting went underground, refusing to die, but also unable to challenge the Age of PacMan

This is where people in the stamp industry get upset. Many would prefer to believe stamp show and stamp clubs kept everything going until the Internet came along. But I was there at shows where dealers outnumbered collectors and clubs where free beer couldn't get someone in the door. In my opinion the Internet saved stamp collecting from oblivion and made it exciting and educational again. Here are the reasons why:


it keeps people connected, you can send stamp images, word informational attachments in minutes sometimes seconds---really helps with tough questions on id's, watermark issues

World Wide Web:

the major companies got on board and their sites now offer more products and information and then their former printer catalogs--a lot of free stuff too---what a switch!

Software Downloads:

Software programs are the newest product in stamp collecting to come along in years and the most exciting. For US collectors the Scott software program is the best to track every stamp in your collection by image, value, date, year, --just incredible and easy. Plus there are dozens of generic programs for basic collecting and you can provide your own images.


It's impact on stamp collecting is monumental. Between its thousands of stamp auctions and fixed stores, Ebay has brought stamp collecting to the forefront of hobbies again by simply reintroducing it to the public at prices that wont scare away the uninitiated. It also helps that you get to see the stamp, product, etc., and have a decent description. I have always said once stamping was revived the marketplace would correct the past obscene prices of the business side of collecting and level it off for past, present and future collectors; thus preserving the passion of philately without going broke in the process.

Irony and Snailmail:

Past detractors of computers and Internet used to lament about how technology would reduce people contact and possibly formal letter writing and postal mail services (i.e. snailmail).

1st point: a poor public perception of stamp collecting and stamp shows few and far between did a fine job of reducing people contact.

2nd point: the reduction of formal letter writing was on the decline years before email came along in fact email was increasing writing by people in general, many write letters on computers, print them and then mail it.

3rd point: computers and the Internet did not reduce postal mail services in fact it increased them by many fold. I get dozens of stamps from stamp shipments, friends and relatives from the mail which first starts off as an email.

The impact of the Internet on stamp collecting is significant and continues to expand in many different directions. There are sites where you can create your own stamps for actual postage using your own designs and photos. The horizons are unlimited and benefit stamp collecting in the most incredible ways, you can now actually visit the country you are collecting on the Internet and see amazing photos. But like anything of heartfelt value we must not succumb to rewriting history because the world changed and we didn't. At least this time we did and we as a global stamping community are reaping the rewards of a journey that must last to the next generation. If we do our jobs right and teach the hobby with love and respect the next generation will figure out how to take it to the next level.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stamp Albums, Hinges and Mounts

Stamp Albums: United States

Over time the beginning collector might outgrow their stockbook and seek to start a more established home for their multitude of stamps. Collectors choosing the United States as their preference must select one of the many brands of Stamp Albums (Minkus, Whitman/Harris, Scott, etc.) currently sold on the market. The three mentioned in the brackets are the biggest and oldest of the official U.S. stamp albums and each bring a unique characteristic to the Hobby of Kings.

Minkus and Scott albums have neat descriptions about each stamp and Harris has more keener illustrations than most out there. There are plenty of other album brands out there; most are generic in nature with B&W photos, if any, and usually no descriptions. While we do not endorse any products in particular I can honestly say you will be better served with the time-tested major album brands quoted above.

Some of you might be fortunate to live in a community with a stamp/coin store. In the days before Internet stamp stores were numerous and the best place to go to purchase stamps and supplies. I still remember taking the train from NJ and buying stamps with my grandfather and father at Gimbels in NY which was a major department store. Today, if you are watching your budget, you are better to shop around at Ebay, the direct brand sites and the stamp store. You will save on shipping costs at the community store versus Ebay provided the price is competitive.

World Stamp Albums are very expensive and very large in volume. It could take 6 large loose leaf styled albums just to cover the planet of stamp collecting. I know stamp collectors of 50 years who still don't even have 1/4th of them filled. I would not recommend going this route. Stick to the stockbooks on stamps from around the world, if two or three countries strike your fancy, you can buy world supplement (pages) that contain your chosen country for an affordable price. Buy an inexpensive loose left binder and you are set to collect.

Hinges and Mounts: Ways and Means

Hinges are very small glassine wedges made to stick to the back of stamps and the stamp album page. My general rule is: only use them for used stamps. Actually, you can use them for any stamp of any condition. It all depends on personal taste. You can use hinges on stamps and then slip the entire stamp page in a plastic clear page protector. (Note: collectors used to separate pages from the album and hole punch them for a 3 ring binder. )

Mounts are stamp protectors that slip over the stamp and stick to the album via an glue adhesive. My general rule is: only use them for unused stamps are stamps of exceptional used value or maybe sentimental reasons. Mounts or as we used to call them "jackets" are very helpful but pricey items that shouldn't be wasted on just any old stamp. Actually, you can use them for whatever you want just be ready to pay the price. If you try to mount 100 stamps or more you'll discover it costs more than the album. Best to survey what you need and plan accordingly.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Little Delicate Things: Stamps and Souls

Stamps like good wives are delicate things we often take for granted. (Shame on us.) Apparently so is regional stability in the Black Sea. (Shame on them.) While I don't mean to make light of marital or diplomatic relations, territorial conflicts, past and present, have the potential to reshape the world and the world of stamp collecting. Winners may emerge as new countries such as (Georgia & Kosovo) while losers (Rhodesia & South West Africa) might wind up having a new name and identity like Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Any international stamp collector worth their salt delves into the history, culture, politics, religion and geography out of sheer curiosity. Who are these people? Where did this place come from? What does this or that mean? Questions and answers make for broader knowledge yet also complete the collector as a genuine citizen of the world. Name another hobby that fits a such a wide bill of qualities and I will test it to the ends of the earth. This is the Hobby of Kings.

Sometimes we take Freedom for granted. It is being challenged and chastised by radicals and regimes who seek to rule by murder and myth. Lives are touched and changed forever by social movements bent on taking, preserving or destroying tracts of geography imprinted on those little delicate things we call stamps. As much as we love and cherish stamps we also pray democratic countries are not extinguished by dragons once thought slayed.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Next Step: Stockbooks and Tongs

The next step once you have received your starter-kit of stamps is to obtain a stockbook, which is basically a black stamp album. Depending on the maker, the pre-made types are manufactured through KA-BE, Lighthouse, PARAT, Stanley Gibbons, Supersafe, Prinz Scott, G & K, each might have a white backing on the pages or black blackground. Each page will have slots, 8, 7, 6, 5, accomodating a vast number of sizes of the stamps. Obtaining of the these stockbooks is easy through the websites of various dealers or through Ebay. The average cost is about $20.

The second type of stockbook is the one you can create with vario pages. These pages set up with various sizes of stamps, blocks, sheets, etc. can be purchased for as little as $6 and have multiple holes for 3 or 4 ring binders that can be purchased in the office section of any large store. For less than half the cost of a pre-made you can put together your own stockbook. Vario pages are best purchased at Ebay. The page quality is all the same just the shipping price will be different and that is what you should factor when ordering. The Vario chart is too big to be pictured here but there is only a few the starting collector can actually use anyhow. The Vario page 6S, 7S & 8S are best for the starting collector. The number is how many horizonal rungs each page contains, the more rungs the smaller the space between. For larger stamps 8S is good and for much smaller thumbnail stamps, 6S is sufficient. The full Chart is available as an informational segment attachment upon request. Ebay stores and dealers usually have the chart available on their sites as well.

The next item necessary is called "tongs." A picture above shows what they look like--almost like a flat headed tweezer. The purpose is to keep the oil from your hands and fingers from tranferring upon the stamp; thus reducing its lifespan. The nickle-plated ones work perfectly fine. Shouldn't cost you any more than $4 for a pair. They now sell gold-plated ones but honestly you don't need them. I am still using the same tongs my father gave me 35 years ago.

The new collector must keep in mind that everything he/she needs for their collecting purposes are not available in any regular stores out there. If you are lucky to have a stamp store nearby, you might find their prices are far higher than the combine price and shipping of most anything on Ebay.
The most important lesson here is to get what you basically need to protect, store and enjoy the stamps. Folks out there easily get carried away with expensive and unnecessary supplies that in my opinion are not only a waste of money but also reduces a person's budget which should be spent on getting more stamps.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Trading Links, Members, Information

Trading Links: (Nix on the Commercial Stuff)

I have been gettting a number of invites to trade links with what I must call commercial stamp sites. After investigation I have concluded trading links with these sites would not be in line with our non-sponsorship position. We take no ads nor endorse products. Our members would be exposed to higher priced items in exchange for a link buried in the bowels of these flashy sites. Sorry, not worth it. All links included below are either sites with no products for sale or with significant free information about stamps and collecting clearly marked for easy navigation. The key is not to get lost in the whole muck of other people's agendas. My vision is practical and simple: help parents help their children appreciate stamps in the most inexpensive manner.

More Members: (Need Your Comments)

We have signed up (metaphorically speaking) more members and starter-kits are out in the mail. Please don't forget to request the informational segment attachments to help with translations and definitions. Thanks for the nice compliments via email but please consider using the comments section of the blog articles and let other people know how you feel. Thanks. And keep spreading the word.

More Information: (Albums, Stockbooks, Supplies and Ebay)

As more members are requesting starter-kits, the need now shifts to produce a blog segments on stamp albums and stamp stockbooks. Stay tuned this weekend. Also there will be a segment on buying stamps and supplies. I will be focusing on the advantages of Ebay auctions and stores versus other direct locations for materials. I will list them all and you can decide what is best for your needs and your budget.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Starter-Kits and Information Segment Attachments

We continue to send out starter-kits to inquiring parents and resourceful individuals. I would like to welcome Don Schilling from Stamp Collecting Roundup, (see link below!) an incredible site full of articles and links to the most diverse line-up of stamp collecting people on the planet. Thanks for your support. Also, new to the family, Mike Marx, a teacher who is recommitting to the craft of stamp collecting and teaching a class this fall. Kids Need Stamps have supplied his entire group of 30 students with stamps. You guys are an inspiration. Thanks for being out there.

The following informational segments are available in word.doc attachments that will sent upon request. This keeps postage to the minimum.

Major Lists

Cross Country Index --- (4 pages) conversion list that links old country names with new names, i.e., Siam—Thailand

Postage Art Emblems --- (3 pages) includes common symbols used in postage stamps, good for identification purposes

Basic Dictionary of Stamp Terms ---- (6 pages) an excellent grounding in stamp collecting terminology

Basic Country Name Translation List --- (5 pages) essential list to assist new collectors when dealing with international stamps

Specialized Lists

SE Asian Ideograms---- helps with asian ideograms on stamps

Indian Alphabet ---helps with Indian feudal states stamps

Cyrillic & Greek ---helps with Russian, Armenian and Greek isles

U.S. Glossary of Philatelic Terms –only list stamp terminology used in American collecting

Advanced Philatelic Glossary – (18 pages) super extensive

Bogus Issue List --- lists stamps that are frauds

If I have violated any copyright, referred to a web site or item inaccurately, failed to give proper credit, or erred in any way, it is unintentional. Please let me know, and I'll correct it.
Some of these segments are original by yours truly but in some instances I have amended, added or formally updated existing lists from Lee's Listopedia which is a fascinating site of international scope that remains inactive and hasn't been updated since 1999. Emails haven't been returned. As always anything I provide is free of charge.

Monday, August 4, 2008

In the Light: Improving The Image of Stamp Collecting

I'm always a bit miffed when I hear worship stories about people who collect teacups, dolls from Japan, baseball cards, dead insects, etc, but when it comes to stamp collecting---suddenly it's too corny, nerdy, cerebral, brainy, old-fashioned, and the terrible list goes on. These days you can collect the weirdest things on the planet Earth (micro-meteorites!) and get more respect than the time-honored, #1 hobby in the world: STAMP COLLECTING. Folks, we definitely need a serious stamp-collecting image overhaul.

Part of the problem, and new parents will encounter this, is the stubborn stereotype that insists stamp collecting is a senior citizen past time of no consequence. Yes, there are senior citizens who engage in the hobby, many certified experts, but a majority of collectors internationally are younger people. The two biggest contributors to the image problem of stamp collecting in the United State is first, the Hollywood movie and television industry which has portrayed stamp collecting in a negative light for decades. Too much of this slandering has to do with the corporate tie-ins most film studios have with big-name board game makers and then later video games. They don't like the competition. Second, the US Government itself, which doesn't do enough to spread the positive word of stamp collecting to its younger-age public. A number of countries, Denmark and Greece are perfect examples, spend time and money to promote stamps and collecting in the public school system. It shouldn't be a surprise to Americans that the international student body scores higher on geography tests due to the early introduction of the world's numerous stamp issues.

I am saddened to report some collectors have bought into the stereotypical image and can be heard mocking a hobby they have spent decades belaboring in the dark. And this is the key to their self-mockery, they collect in secret, often not sharing their joy with friends or relatives, until it becomes a hidden habit of embarrassment. Last I checked, cigarettes and drugs, taken in secret were considered hidden habits of shame; not a noble educational hobby. And it is this counter-logical nonsense that slowly twists in our society into pushing people hide the good and promote the bad.

Everyone says their hobby is the sport of kings: golf, horse racing, chess, etc, yet it is Stamp Collecting that is aptly called the King of Hobbies and the Hobby of Kings. You cannot tell much about a nation or culture from its golf players or horse races or chess sets. The same cannot be said about stamps. You can learn much about a nation's values, priorities and qualities or lack there of (consider the Nazi stamps) through the art and language of its colorful stamps. These facts are indisputable and add to a long historical line of proud and joyous achievements found in those small patches of colour and ink we call stamps. Why hide it?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Teaching Environment: Clubs and Classrooms

The teaching environment for stamp collecting is by default a mentorship program. Meaning parents are a secondary support system. The true measure of success for stamp students solely rests with mentors insuring follow-up support from parents and stamp-peers. The basic definition of support from parents is positive encouragement and the procurement of necessary supplies to continue the hobby. The bonding of stamp-peers is also a valuable tool to assist the collector in approaching stamps in an non-academic setting. The trading of both stamps and ideas is a natural development of peer-bonding and becomes a prime catalyst to full engagement for stamp student to graduate to stamp collector.

Clubs and Classrooms are the best and most likely locations for the teaching environment of stamp collecting. Yet these traditional settings actually hold different approaches to how stamp collecting is presented to a student body. Take notice of the following:

Classrooms: Due to the academic setting of a school atmosphere--the mentor is a licensed teacher and will likely tailor their stamp teaching to topics, subjects, events, geographical locations, cultures, etc. that might be elements of normal classroom instruction or discussion. The good example would be a history teacher rolling out stamps that contain famous historical figures or battles or locations that he/her can expound upon in greater detail.

Clubs: Clubs are normally based out of libraries, community centers and churches and are either free-form and can simply focus on stamp collecting in the most basic manner: how to find stamps, how to mount stamps, how to id stamps, etc., or completely theme-oriented on one country such as Italy or topical like stamps with airplanes, birds, cars, etc. The club setting permits more time for students than a classroom, but this isn't always an advantage over classrooms since clubs tend to have more experienced participants who often add to the instruction.

Kids Need Stamps stand ready to help teachers and mentors, clubs and classrooms with stamps for every interested student. The informational segment attachments are an excellent resource to guide students in understanding the vast world releasing stamps to preserve their art, heroes, culture, religion and even athletic achievments. While the core ambition of Kids Need Stamps is to be clearinghouse of cost-free assistance to further one-on-one stamp instruction between parent and child--we recognize this ideal is always possible and wish to lend a caring hand to stamp teaching mentors from every walk of life.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Parental Connecting Through Stamp Collecting

There are too many distractions today. Video games have replaced board games. Special effects have replaced visiting carnvials. Computers have replaced books. In numerous instances the modern world has eroded the special connection parents should have with their children.

I'm not a fuddy-duddy luddite railing against the machine. Just a parent and an observor who has distinctly noticed that when I played with my son in the park or playground--we strengthened our connection far deeper than when we watched television shows or joined in computer games.

This same basic notion surrounds the hobby of stamp collecting. Collecting stimulates the curiosity and permits parents and children to engage in intellectual challenges that builds bonds of trust and respect. It keeps parents "in the moment," guaranteeing nothing or no one can say they weren't there present and scratching their heads over a foreign destination (Albania) or international event (Olympics.)
In the coming entries we will explore the craft, fun and value of stamp collecting that is sure to transcend mere collecting and become another tremendous tool to teach our children history, geography, and last but not least ---our enduring love for their well-being.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Press Release and Starter Kit Additions

I have sent out (and will probably send out more as more sites are discovered) the formal press release announcing "Kids Need Stamps" into formal existence. Apparently, you are nobody until you send out a release. No doubt this will bring more parents into our family of collectors and would-be collectors hoping to spark a new fire of curiosity into their children.

I received an email today from someone complaining the term "parents" somehow leaves out single parents. I ask folks to understand this is a stamp club seeking to promote stamp collecting between parents and children as a means of education, fun and parental bonding.

We discussed and will put into place starter sheets that assist parents with basic stamp collecting terms, definitions and country identification information. The country id sheets will be a big help because so much has happened to countries just in the past 40 years. Name changes like Burma to Myanmar. And many foreign stamps do not print their name with american pronunications such as the country Norway, it writes "Norge" on its stamps.
Many countries also use Cyrillic, Arabic letters or Asian ideograms. We provide basic lists for these as well as easy to use markers that help you spot them fast without even referring to the sheet. Most modern Japanese stamps will say "Nippon" on them for Japan. Yet older Japanese stamps are written in japanese ideograms and the very best way to spot them is to notice the Chrysanthemum circular flower symbol at the top or middle of the stamp. The Chrysanthemum is the national flower of Japan.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monthly Report: Emails, Members & Stamps for the Wounded

I proposed this stamp club about a month ago on the stamp forum and received 14 requests from parents around the United States and 1 in Canada. Ironically, I sent out starter-kits and provided guidance even before I got around to building the blog site "Kids Need Stamps."

I have also reminded parents not to forget our wounded veterans by donating the stamps saved from envelopes in their daily correspondence at home and work.

Please donate your stamps on paper to:

John M. Hotchner
Stamps For the Wounded
P. O. Box 1125
Falls Church, VA 22041-1125

You will receive a heartfelt note of appreciation from
SFTW, Vice President, John M. Hotchner

"We very much appreciate your contribution of materials to help hospitalized servicemen by providing them with the stamps and other necessary tools for engaging in stamp collecting; a successful recreation therapy which productively occupies their time, their eyes, their hands, and above all, their minds. We assure you that all philatelic material you contribute will be used for purposes related to our charitable function as described above. This note of appreciation is sent on behalf of all of those who will ultimately benefit from your generosity."

There is much more to come in both information and projects to assist parents in keeping stamp collecting alive and thriving in the lives of children. Stay tuned.

Your Starter Kit ---The Journey Begins

The Journey towards Collecting Stamps begins after your starter kit comprises of 20 stamps both US and Foreign arrives in the mail.

My recommendation is you purchase a stockbook. A stockbook is a similar to a photo album but its pages are slotted for various sizes of stamps. The book is neutral (not dedicated to a certain country or theme) and will permit you to store the stamps safely until you decide what type or topic of stamp you may want to pursue with your child.

The following are but a few examples---(upon receipt of your starter kit you might decide to stick with)

United States

Certain Countries (i.e, France, Germany, Poland)

All Countries (i.e. the whole world of 150 plus countries)

Certain Themes (called Topicals, i.e, Shells, Fish, Butterflies, Soccer, Planes, Space, etc.)

If you decide to select the United States, then a US Stamp Album is a excellent choice to forever bound your stamps in a permanent collection. You will need a few low-cost supplies to start:

hinges: tiny adhesives that stick to back of stamp and album page

tongs: a type of blunted tweezer to safely handle stamps

magnifying glass: to increase your insight into various designs on stamps

mounts: a type of page protector but sized for stamps (best utilized on unused stamps)

You might not want to go this route so suddenly and just simply use a stockbook to fill with
US and various Foreign Stamps. If you do, you wont need any supplies other than the tongs
for handling stamps safely and possibly the magnifying glass.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kids Need Stamps -- Parents Need A Hand

We live in a busy, complicated world overflowing with bleak images, bad role models, violent games and mixed messages. It is a daily struggle for most parents to carve out quality time to spend with their children. In the rush to be relevant we can often fixate on a sport, event or project to interest your child only because your interested. Those are the potential pitfalls of blinding imposing our childhood pursuits on our children. There's less of a chance of this happening when dealing with stamps.

The beauty of stamp collecting is a lack of pressure. You don't have to be an expect. You don't have a large budget. You don't have scream about from the rooftops or shield it from the world. You can start small. You start big. Start with America. Go to Europe and check out Africa. There's no deadline, no pressure. Another charming facet of stamp collecting is the clever flexibilty it allows by being both an individual hobby and a joint project with parents.

If you believe, as I do, kids need stamps, then you must conclude, parents need a hand to prepare them for a smooth transition to the hobby. And that is where, "Kids Need Stamps" comes into play. I will mail out, free of charge, a small starter kit, to help you understand how to start learning and maybe even loving postage stamps of the world. The most amazing thing is you really don't have to know much to start, and you, as a parent, can actually learn with your child, and create a stronger bond of trust and communication.

The "learn-as-you-go" aspect is an unique characteristic of the hobby and usually surprises parents who are often stressed into believing because they are adults they are supposed to be experts on everything they introduce to their offspring. You need not worry since you have a friend in this exciting endeavor. A friend who is a lifelong collector (35 years) and a father of two children. "Kids Need Stamps" will walk you through every step of the hobby and help you build a collection, a knowledge base and a more fruitful relationship with your children.

Back in Vogue: Stamp Collecting

Stamp collecting had fallen out of favor years ago as video games and special effects-laden movies made it seem old hat. I used to know collectors who hid their hobby like a disfiguring disease lest someone mock their pastime. Ironically, the internet has brought back stamp collecting in the public eye in a major way. You can buy, sell, connect, converse, trade, etc., with other enthusiasts literally around the world---often in the same day!

Today, stamp collecting is beyond the stereotypical nerdy hobby of yesteryear. Stamps are used to help wounded veterans focus their creativity outward, connect with children to increase their educational appetite, even to assist the mentally disabled to grasp artistic concepts. Those little sheets of paper with pictures are valuable, visionary and now totally in vogue.