First I will introduce myself, my name is Terry, and I have been an avid stamp collector for many years, I really enjoy the hobby a lot, it's relaxing and puts my mind to rest, let's just call it a "brain comforter". It really puts me in my own little world, just gives me a chance to relax.
OK, now on with a little about stamp collecting it self, I still consider myself a novice, I am far from a pro, so the opinions are strictly just my own, but feel free to correct me or comment on the things I talk about, it might educate me as well. I strictly collect just U.S.A. and some territories, I really don't have time or space for the rest of the world, so I keep it to just the U.S.
When it comes to stamp collecting it's really important,(I think), to use quality collecting supplies to keep your stamps values intact. So I like to use black mounts personally, as opposed to hinges that do affect the value of your stamps, some collectors are so fussy they don't want the gum disturbed, they want it as close to post office fresh as possible, and that's fine, but be prepared to pay the price, especially for the older issues, they are costly anyway, but at P.O. fresh condition, they are pricy. Personally, I am not that fussy, if I can get them in good condition I'm pretty happy, the closer to P.O. condition they are, the happier I am, but like I said earlier, I am just a novice, I have purchased used issues just simply because I can't afford unused issues.
This brings up another condition, used and unused stamps, again being a novice; I really have no issue purchasing a used stamp if an unused one is out of my price range. If you start looking at the earlier issues like the bank notes and some of the Washington/Franklin issues I would personally purchase used ones, I would love unused, but at this time it's not practical for me to do so.
I go off track a little, I wanted to discuss the stamp collecting supplies needed for the hobby, like I said earlier, I prefer the black mounts, I think they make the stamps stand out more, it gives the that BOLD look, and I like that look. As far as a album to put your stamps in, it's whatever the pocket book can bare when it comes to this item. I think I spent like $100 on mine, you can spend a lot more, an of course you get a quality album, Scott's make a beautiful album, as does Lighthouse, and White Ace, I can go on and on, but I will leave this up to you. When it comes to watermark fluid, they all really work pretty well, I prefer a certain brand made by a company called Prinz, but again I'm pretty sure they are all pretty good products. When it comes to tongs and magnifying glass or stereoscope, it's all up to the user, what ever you like or can afford is up to you.
In the future I would like to post more articles on stamps themselves, help in identifying certain issues, maybe the values and how the economy impacts the values, any other ideas are welcome, or comments.

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