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An educational past time: stamp collecting

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, also known as philately, is a popular and educational pastime. Philatelists save stamps from letters, especially stamps from other countries. They also look for old stamps that represent a bygone time. Stamp enthusiasts can be found everywhere. Their notebooks and cellophane envelopes filled with stamps make you want to look through them. Many of the stamps they collect are also very valuable.

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The materials needed to begin collecting stamps include a philatelic book and special mounting tape called hinges. Tools you will find useful are a pair of small pliers or tweezers for carefully lifting delicate old stamps, and a magnifying glass for finding fine details. Beginning philatelists can start with the stamps on the mail they receive today. To remove the stamp from the envelope, carefully tear the envelope around the stamp, but be careful not to tear the stamp itself. Now soak the stamp in warm water. The remaining piece of the envelope will loosen, allowing you to use pliers to lift the stamp out of the water.

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Place the stamp on absorbent paper. Once dry, place a heavy book on top of the stamp and flatten it. As a past time, stamp collecting needs to be precise and neat. Use one of the hinges to place the dried and flattened stamps in a book, or store them in one of the small cellophane envelopes unique to philately.

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Many philatelists specialize in collecting currently available memorabilia as a pastime. Stamp designs are diverse, beautiful and interesting. Souvenirs are those special stamps issued by the post office for a limited period of time. They may commemorate special people or events. Most countries produce commemorative stamps from time to time. U.S. stamps feature wildlife, artists, antiques and many other subjects. In fact, there is an annual contest in which American school children compete to draw the best wild duck. The best duck art is printed on the stamps.

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A fun way for young people to collect foreign stamps is to find a few pen pals in a foreign country. This activity helps people make friends and broadens their horizons at the same time. There are also companies that send out introductory collections of foreign stamps to get collectors to join their mailing lists. These stamp collections are usually brightly colored and varied.

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Stamp collecting is an educational pastime. For the right person, stamp collecting can sometimes become very rewarding. If you are looking for a new or pastime, stamp collecting may be the choice for you!