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 contest....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.