How To Start Stamp Collecting - Part 3

Let me caution you against being over ambitious at the start. Be content with an initial packet of one or two thousand different stamps - at the most two thousand. A little story will well illustrate my point. A friend asked me to get a stamp-collecting outfit for his fourteen-year old son and wanted to know what it would cost. About five dollars, I told him. He scoffed at the idea. Why only five dollars? Why could he not get his son a big album and, instead of a thousand different stamps, why not a big packet? Everything I said against this idea was of no avail. In the end the father bought his son a beautiful large album and a packet of twelve thousand different stamps. The father thought that he was providing his son with something better than average and so giving him a better-than-ordinary start. The boy, of course, was pleased beyond words when he got his Christmas present. Both father and son sat down to sort out the stamps.

Here was a real father-son project with hours of pleasure stretching out ahead of them. Certainly a fascinating picture indeed. Yet within a single hour the father-son team was undergoing strained relations. The twelve thousand different stamps presented an unbelievable problem. The son, dependent upon Dad for superior knowledge of all things, was becoming disillusioned rapidly. Dad, at first embarrassed, was getting desperate. He finally mumbled an excuse and went back to his pipe and book. Son continued for a little longer listlessly turning over the pile of stamps. Within a few weeks the stamps found their way into the attic where they lie to this day forgotten.

On the other hand, a learned doctor, head of one of our great medical schools, visited me one day with a similar request. He wanted to start a collection. I gave him a book such as you are now reading and advised him to study it as it contained the best information I had on the subject. In a day or so he returned and requested "one of those beginner's outfits" the book told about. It was provided and the doctor took it home to apply himself to learning. A few weeks passed before I saw this fellow again but when he returned he was full of confidence. "I've read the book," he said, "and I've worked out the thousand different stamps. Now I feel that I can go ahead. Let me see some of those better albums and let's see about starting a real collection." In due course this man built one of the finest collections of airmail stamps ever assembled and became one of the great collectors of our country. By starting correctly he found the way to enjoy one of the world's greatest cultural hobbies. The same pleasure awaits you. Now let us proceed with what to do after you have acquired your beginner's outfit.