Terms & Tips

Philatelic Terms & Tips #1: Accessories

As an English As A Foreign Language (EFL) teacher in southern Thailand, I usually explain that one of the main requirements of a hobby is that some sort of equipment is used. I often need to explain that sleeping is not a hobby although most of my students insist it is their favorite free-time activity. Hobbies are actually a diverse set of activities and it is difficult to categorize them in a logical manner. A recent study by Robert Stebbins categorizes casual leisure and serious leisure by dividing hobbyists into five broad types of activity: collecting, making and tinkering (like embroidery and car restoration), activity participation (like fishing and singing), sports and games, and liberal-arts hobbies (like languages, cuisine, literature).

As we all are aware, collecting includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying and storing. This is appealing to many people due to their interest in a particular subject and a desire to categorize and make order out of complexity.

Collecting stamps has its own unique pieces of equipment needed in the pursuit of our hobby. We call these ACCESSORIES. Some accessories are used in varying degrees by all stamp collectors while others may never be used at all by the majority.

A few basic accessories are needed to collect stamps. Tongs are non-striated tweezers used because they are a reliable way to hold and move stamps without damaging or getting skin oils on them. Collectors have a choice in how to store their stamps, many opting for stamp albums using either stamp hinges or more expensive hingeless mounts, while others use stock books which hold stamps in clear pockets without the need for a mount. Magnifiers — either the traditional handheld magnifying glass or the modern digital counterparts — aid in viewing fine details. Other accessories aid in the proper identification of stamps including perforation gauges, watermark detectors, color charts, and UV lamps used to determine tagging varieties. Catalogues and philatelic literature can also be regarded as accessories. Each of these will have their own article in the “Philatelic Terms & Tips” blog series.

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Postcards, Stamp Books, Today's Mail

Today’s Mail – 8th July 2015

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My first fan mail!!  Actually, this was probably in response to my postcard-only blog and that is where I will publish a full write-up.  Must not let this go to my head…  Nah, my ego needs stoking on a rainy day such as this.  The fact that I’m receiving mail on consecutive days is all the stoking I really need, however.

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The remaining two items received today a bits of philatelic reading material.  I’ve collected paquebot covers off and on since my teens, mainly those of Cunard liners or originating from favorite ports.  I’d long been looking for a copy of Philip Cockrill’s classic Ocean Mails and at last I found one on eBay.  I’ve been buying a few of these types of older philatelic literature over the past couple of months as the price is often reasonable and shipping costs low.  I plan to scan those that are out-of-print and (probably) offer the resulting PDF’s as free downloads via Scibd if they are in the public domain.

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Last, but certainly not least, in today’s mail was a 50-page Stanley Gibbons compilation of articles published in their excellent magazine marking the 40th anniversary of Guernsey’s and Jersey’s postal independence in late 2009.  While I corresponded with a famous author who lived on Jersey in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, I never really collected their stamps (I recall that my “penpal” sent me the Jersey presentation pack for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana but these are all I had, aside from those affixed to the numerous envelopes).  It’s only been in the last couple of years that my interest was piqued by a February 2013 article in The Philatelic Missive, by the Central Florida Stamp Club.  It concerned the German occupation of the Channel Islands and the stamps issued by Guernsey and Jersey during the occupation.

I now have a complete collection of the Jersey wartime issues and am working on those of Guernsey.  I also have a number of stamps released by each of these islands since their postal independence in 1969, as well as a few from Alderney (see my “Stamp Issuers” write-up) not to mention a few local post stamps from islands such as Herm and Jethou.  This book looks to improve my still somewhat limited knowledge on the subject.

I wonder what tomorrow’s mail will bring?

Happy Collecting!