Stamps are an inexhaustible source of delight for (even very young) children and you can get them interested in all sorts of subjects through stamps. Schools often organise projects around stamp collecting. Sorting stamps requires all sort of skills which children develop in kindergarten and primary school:
Frank Goslant is a 3rd grade teacher at the Henry J. Winters School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, who is setting up a project based on stamps for his class. He needs advise, stamps and other materials. He can be contacted at <email@example.com> or via snail-mail:
Frank Goslant P.O.Box 494 Harmony, RI 02829
Judy Carrozzino is connected to the Black River Stamp Club and welcomes all stamps you're willing to donate to the "Kids Table" at her club. There the members give young children advise and free stamps for their collections.
Black River Stamp Club, c/o Judy Carrozzino, secretary 168 Bethesda Circle Elyria, OHIO 44035
Daniel A. Torrey writes: My uncle has been an avid collector for years. He tried to get me started when I was 10 or 11, by giving me an enormous album and a huge assortment of stamps. I was completely overwhelmed by the idea of putting ALL OF THOSE STAMPS into that GREAT BIG ALBUM, ONE AT A TIME. My advice is start small.
Bjørn P. Munch writes: Well, *I* didn't glue my first stamps on paper :-) What I did, was to cut away those ``silly ragged borders around the picture''. Ah well, those were fairly common stamps. It was much worse when I got >100 old Danish 4 skilling stamps a few years back, and saw that a previous owner had done the same thing. Reducing their value from ~$15 a piece to almost nothing. :-( So be careful about giving the kids valuable stamps...
Nancy Rabel Hall writes: [ dots ] I know a couple who is trying to get their 8 and 10 year old interesting in stamp collecting. Seems like they know someone who get lots of mail and he saved the envelopes and sent two paper bags full of evelopes to the kids. Well, first thing the kids did was glue the stamps into notebook paper. :( I can't help but cringe when I say that. [dots] Ken, I agree with the post I've seen that said get interesting stamps for you daughter. There are tons of Christmas stamps that are based on drawings from children. I think she'll like that. Also, if you have a pet (dog, cat, bird, etc) then animals will also be a good topic. I started out with the Harris US stamp album and a Topical Album when I was 10. These albums had pictures of the stamps. Now 15 years later, neither are complete. So I would suggest an album where your daughter can place the stamps in any order she wants.
Francesco Cesarini writes: The way I got my sister's younger kids into collecting was by giving them a blank album, and about 3--400 stamps from 5 different countries. I made sure that there where doubles among them, and several stamps from the same sets, so they learn to recognize them.. (Here, we are speaking of a 7 year old). I then gave them advice, ie, on how to arrange them in a estetic way, to put the ones which look old at the begining, the others at the end. It is important not to give them any pressure on perfection (I glued my first stamp collection in a text-book,!!!), they will soon learn. ANother thing which is stimulating for them is to be able to trade with friends. That is, I believe the fun part of it all. With time, she will realize that it is impossible to collect the whole world, and start specializing. Untill then, however, try not to have the collection look like it should be, but the way she wants it. As for expensive stamps, try to avoid them, untill she is older. I recieved several mint swedish year sets when I was between 10 and 13, and they are gone, or dammaged. I guess that only 70% of the stamps I had in the collection then have survived.
Michael Rys writes: My advise is: Give the kids interesting stamps (triangular shapes, colorful, depicting their hobbies etc.) but not too expensive, a normal, non-hinges album and a pincette (sp?) and some of your time.
Dan Lester writes:
On Wed, 19 Aug 1992 15:45:15 CDT Steven G. Anderson said: >The other big impact has been card collecting. Kids can relate to the >people or characters on the cards, but how many kids relate to Queen >Victoria? Also the dealers at the shows are friendly to the kids and >helpful.
This is true. At our local shows they are generally fairly receptive to kids, and encourage kids to browse, pick from the free box, etc. But at many `big shows' that is NOT the case.
Also, there are many more things to compete with stamps than there were when some of us `old farts' were kids (and I'm not quite 50....). We had no TV, no computers, no vcrs, etc. It does make a difference.
As to the US PO being abusive in new issues, no argument....but... I don't buy it that even kids can't afford it if they are interested... at least at the level of buying one of each new issue. Or even a block. I bet the total value of all new issues is under two bucks a week at the VERY most....and almost any teenager has LOTS more spending money than that. For a retiree on a fixed income it is even possible in most cases.
Steven G. Anderson writes: But the time to attract kids to stamps is before they are teenagers. I certainly can't speak for everyone, but I know that a lot of people, including myself, dropped stamp collecting in our teenage years. Having money for dates was far more important than buying stamps. My son is 12 and a lost cause when it comes to stamps. He'd rather play Nintendo or buy baseball cards. I've tried and he was interested for awhile, but baseball cards are a lot more `in' than stamps. I'm trying to remember what the total cost for 1991 was. I believe it was over $200 for the year, primarily due to the rate change. For 1992, it will be over $1,000,000 if you include the variable rate coil with all of its denominations. Excluding those coils, I come up with $71.39 for 1992. This does not include the reissue of all postal stationary on recycled paper, nor the reissue of the $1 Hopkins, nor the issues that don't have certain dates yet. A good guess for 1992 would be around $100. For teenagers, not bad, for a 7-year old, prohibitve.
Jerry Morine writes:
I think giving stamps to kids or selling very cheaply to them is great. I think the stamps should be sound and not damaged or with killer cancels. As the kids get older, they will realize that their stamps are damaged and this will produce a bad taste in their mouth for stamp collecting and the people you meet in the hobby. Better that a kid has a collection of sound definitives or CTO topical dunes than a carefully organized collection of damaged junk.
Barry Moss writes:
When I look back at some of my early attempts at collecting (I still have an Ambassador album from grade four), I notice that many of the stamps are not in that great condition. Some were probably that way when I got them, others were probably damaged by my own mishandling. As I progressed in my collecting I learned the importance of the condition of stamps and how to best handle and store them. At first it was a matter of rejecting stamps with tears and major damage, and placing mint stamps in hingless mounts, later it was a matter of becoming pickier about short perfs, small creases and the quality of the cancellation on used stamps.
As time progressed I began replacing some of my damaged stamps with better copies as they became available. I'm still doing that today. I recently replaced some of my 1960's and 70's Canadian mint with fresh never hinged copies to replace the stamps I had hinged (or at least disturbed the gum with fingerprints) in my earlier years. I have no bitter feelings for towards the people who gave me stamps when I was younger, even if those stamps weren't in great condition.
So the question remains, "What to do with the damaged stamps I've accumulated over the years?" The more valuable one can still be used for trade. The common mint (but badly hinged) issues can be used for postage. The other's I'd rather donate to some yong collectors who can make what they want of them. Depending on their level of sophistication, some of these stamps will end up in their collection while others may be used for arts & crafts projects where the condition of the stamps would not matter. (I did several school projects using stamps to illustrate my reports...). Some of the stamps may only be place holders until a junior collector develops the resources to purchase the grade of stamp he wants. So long as the kids know what they are getting up front and are not deceived then I don't think that there will be any problem later on. In any case, I still think that this is a better option than simply depositing my damaged issues in the garbage (or even worse, concealing them in an auction lot like the one I purchased a couple of weeks ago where over half the stamps on the stock card had faults not observable until after the lot was opened :-( ).