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Smithsonian National Postal Museum

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Stamp Collecting

The National Postal Museum celebrates the beauty and lore of stamps, showcasing rare stamps and covers from the Museum's renowned collection. A stamp is much more than the physical evidence that postage has been paid. Stamps can be miniature works of art, treasured keepsakes, and rare collectibles.

Introduction to Stamp Collecting

Stamp Collecting Resources

Famous Stamp Collectors

Collecting Ancestral Homelands

Preserving and Conserving Your Collection

Conservation Resources and References

Scheduling a Preservation Lecture

USPS Behind the Scenes Stamp Stories:
Beyond the Perf

Stamp collecting can be fun and certainly easy. Collectors can build a collection around subjects that interest them. Do you love movies or rock and roll? Stars of both can be found on stamps. Are you a sports fan? You can probably find your favorite sport on stamps as well. People who love cats or dogs, trains, planes and automobiles can find their hobbies celebrated on stamps.

Some collectors specialize not on hobbies or topics, but on countries. Others may prefer to collect stamps and envelopes (known by philatelists as "covers").

The best thing about starting a stamp collection is how easy it can be. For one thing, even if you don't want to travel out of your house to start a collection, stamps come to you in the mail. Or, with a quick trip to the post office, you can see what stamps are currently available for sale. The postal service even sells stamps online.

Several cities have stamp dealers who will sell you stamps that aren't currently available through the postal service. Your city or town may also host a stamp show sometime this year. Dealers at stamp shows will have a large variety of items for you to look through.

However you start, stamp collecting is a hobby that you can continue through your life. Above are some links that will be useful to beginners and advanced collectors alike.

Related Videos:
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Why Stamps Were Invented
This animated video was created in 1993 for the Postal Museum's Stamps and Stories gallery.

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Printing Postage Stamps
Want to know how stamps are printed? This animated video was created in 1993 for the Postal Museum's Stamps and Stories gallery. The BEP shut down its 111 years of printing postage stamps on June 10, 2005. U.S. stamps are now all printed by private contractors.

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Stamps: An American Journey
You see stamps every day but have you ever really looked at them? This video tells the surprising story of the journey of stamps from an idea, to art, to issued stamp.


Guide to Stamp Collecting cover
Guide to Stamp Collecting

Encyclopedia of United States Stamps and Stamp Collecting cover
Encyclopedia of US Stamps and Stamp Collecting

Making an appointment to see the collection

Philatelic Gallery


Glorious Flight: The Jeanette C. Rudy Duck Stamp Collection

Rarity Revealed: The Benjamin K. Miller Stamp Collection

John Lennon childhood stamp album

The Queen's Own: Stamp that Changed the World

The Pichs Collection

Kristen Ollies Collection

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