How To Acquire Stamps - Part 1

Time was when many a great collection was started by an embryo collector visiting the attic and discovering an old trunk full of letters with stamps attached. In fact, many of our greatest rarities were discovered in just that way - and many others were ruined through ignorance of what had been discovered! The old trunk and the wastebasket have pretty well been explored and, while an occasional find is still made in such places, they no longer offer an acceptable means of building a stamp collection. The office mail, if you can latch onto it, is still very good for turning up new stamps especially if your employers do an international business. But even such correspondence is seldom available to the tyro. Usually the office mail is turned over to the office stamp club and divided up among all its members.

The windfall of someone giving you an old collection, "which uncle had when he was a boy," doesn't happen very often. All these things are additional ways of adding to your collection but by far your greatest source of supply for stamps is the stamp dealer. This being the case it would be intelligent to know how to buy stamps. Stamps are sold by dealers in mixtures, packets, sets, and in single specimens. The individual cost of the stamps you acquire increases exactly in respect to the order in which we have listed them: from the lowest-cost to the highest-priced single specimens. "Ho! Ho!" you say. "I'll buy all my stamps in mixtures and save money!"

Take it easy, friend, and let us study this thing out. Let's find out just what we will be getting for our money. Now take mixtures. These are an accumulation of stamps, either on or off paper as may be described, which are put up into large envelopes, cloth bags, or boxes. They are quite often sold by weight. A pound of stamps on pieces of paper may run to as many as four thousand stamps. Off paper a pound would run to considerably more. But just as the name implies, a mixture is a lot of stamps of nondescript determination, many, even most, of which will be duplicates of each other. As a general rule mixtures contain only the commonest of stamps - the kind you and I receive daily in the mail. Now it is completely possible, albeit highly improbable, that you may find a very valuable stamp in a mixture. I know one instance where this actually did happen some years ago. A youngster bought one of those twenty-five-cent mixtures that were popular at the time, and in it he discovered a two-cent Pan-American 'invert' - which he sold for well over one thousand dollars! This, so far as I know is the only such instance on record. However, it is not unusual for you to find many desirable stamps in mixtures and for a lot of fun, with the chance of finding some additions for your collection, the mixture is the best buy for your money.