Did your mother come from Ireland?
Is that the name of a song, or is it a good reason for collecting the stamps of Ireland?
Actually, it is both.
Every year the countries of the world issue thousands of stamps with a face value of many thousands of dollars. Obviously, no one can collect them all. But, many fine collections have been built without being "complete".
Here are some ideas to consider: Restrict your collection to the United States or one other country. Still too broad? Many "old" countries have issued stamps since the middle 1800's. How about collecting stamps issued since you were born? Or - before you were born?
Collect a related group of countries. If one country is too restrictive, expand into neighboring countries. Did your grandfather come from Germany? Perhaps Austria and Switzerland would add interest. Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland have many things in common. Likewise, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are natural associates. You can add or delete countries of your choice!
Collect stamps as history. If you're a romantic history buff, stamps have the answer. So-called "dead" countries which were taken over by internal or external forces often permit interesting collecting possibilities with a limited number of stamps.
Collect by topic. If you like aircraft, collect airmail stamps. If you are charity minded, collect semipostals (stamps with a cost additional to postage value, with the extra earmarked for a charity). Many beautiful collections are built around maps, art, music, flowers, birds, and a host of other topics. Most importantly, enjoy what you choose, and remember that your interests may change as time passes.
Where will you get these stamps for your collection? To start with, check all your old letters, then let friends and family know of your interest. You might call the foreign currency department of your bank and ask someone there to save foreign envelopes for you.
If you prefer stamps which have not been used, foreign or larger U.S. post offices supply newer issues at face value. Some are represented at larger stamp shows. Orders can also be made by writing "Philatelic Bureau of (country name), (capital city), (country)" and say "Please send order information on stamps that you have for sale". Include your name and address. Keep it short - English may be a foreign language to them. You should get 8 out of 10 replies, and some may send attractive catalogs and put interesting stamps on their envelope. Follow their instructions to order. You can buy "year sets", a package which contains all the stamps issued during one year.
Visit your local stamp club and nearby stamp shows, and you may find many items for your collection. Stamp newspapers such as "Linn's Stamp News'' contain many pages of offers in each issue.
Another fact sheet discusses how to store and exhibit your collection. We wish you good fortune and many hours of pleasure in pursuing your new hobby. -Rolland Kontak