Collecting Postage StampsCollecting postage stamps has been around since the early days of the first regular postage stamps. The hobby of collecting postage stamps has been a solitary pursuit, which tells or teaches individual stamp collectors about a specific culture, its history, traditions, values, customs, beliefs, history, architecture, arts, lifestyle, and food. Postage stamp collecting may be traced back in some extent to the early American colonists who depended on published maps and almanacs to know the direction of their settlements. The European exploration and colonization of new lands introduced the habit of collecting maps and it spread to all parts of the world. The variety and quantity of maps printed in this manner made it a very important part of the scientific community. In the United States, a stamp collector can be compared to a person who is deeply involved in any field of research. A good number of stamp collectors buy stamps based on their own research, as well as based on the collection of stamps of other people. For example, collectors buy stamps of places they have visited. There are also those stamp collectors who buy stamps based on the price they have paid for them. The variety of stamps available to collectors is staggering and these people can even find unlisted stamps that are nearly impossible to locate in other collections. However, for the most serious stamp collecting enthusiasts, it is possible to become a specialist stamp collector. Specialist stamp collecting is an expensive hobby. Specialists often buy stamps from private collectors, institutions, or government offices, such as postal departments. If you decide to become a specialist stamp collector, you need to get specialized training. There are several different training courses available. In particular, stamp courses offered by companies that specialize in stamp collecting offer students the opportunity to learn about philatelic investment. A stamp philatelic investor researches and then sells stamps with the hope of making a profit. This type of investor must understand that, in many cases, selling a stamp to a collector is an act of fraud. The American Philatelic Society offers a number of courses that allow people to become professional stamp collectors. One course, called The Art of Collecting Postage Stamps, is taught by Zane McClintock, a professional stamp collector. Students who successfully complete this program will be able to recognize common postage stamp styles and recognize errors when they see them. Students will also learn how to evaluate the value of stamps. They will study the literature on philately and will be introduced to current literature on stamp collecting. Several other courses are offered at the American Philatelic Society. These include Stamp Collecting 101, Stamp Bulletin 101, Business Card Collecting 101, Stamp Dealers 101, Business Mailing Stamp Collection 101, and Stamp Restoration 101. Business Mailing Stamp Collection is a course that is intended for dealers, appraisers, researchers, designers, librarians, and anyone else with an interest in collecting postage stamps. Students in this course will learn how to properly package stamps in order to sell them for the maximum price possible. Business card collecting is an interesting subject that many would like to explore, but few have the time or desire to pursue it. There are also courses offered by non-profit organizations, as well as many professional stamp collections. The International Philatelic Classics Society, for example, publishes a bimonthly magazine called philatelic Classics. Many professional stamp collectors and dealers participate in the magazine in an effort to disseminate information about their hobby. Another great magazine about collecting postage stamps is numismatic. The Numismatic Society of America has been in business since 1941, and has more than twelve thousand members. If you are looking to start a stamp collection, an internship, or simply to broaden your knowledge about postage, stamp collecting may be the right hobby for you. Although it is not for everyone, stamp collecting is a hobby that can bring satisfaction and enjoyment for anyone interested in all aspects of stamp collecting. Learning all about postages through courses and magazines is a great way to learn the basics of this fun hobby. As you gain further understanding about stamps and the people who collect them, you can begin to develop a greater understanding of this beautiful hobby. When you've mastered all of the basics, you'll be able to easily take on the more difficult aspects of stamp collecting.