hob·by n., pl. hob·bies. An activity or interest pursued outside one's regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.
Few hobbies match the flexibility of stamp collecting. It is suitable for nearly all ages. You can collect stamps all 12 months of the year regardless of the climate where you are located. It does not require any special skills or great wealth. Some individuals begin as young as age 4 and many collect until the day they die.
Who Collects Stamps
Stamp collecting has often been called "the hobby of kings and the king of hobbies." Linn's Stamp News estimates that more than 5 million individuals in the United States collect the small pieces of paper that indicate payment of postage. Stamp collectors include individuals from all walks of life. While President Franklin Roosevelt may have been the most famous U.S. collector, other well known collectors include financial gurus Bill Gross and Warren Buffet; astronaut Henry Hartsfield; actors Gary Burghoff, James Earl Jones and Patrick Dempsey; author James Michener, explorer Jacques Cousteau; former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova; musicians John Lennon, Freddy Mercury and Ron Wood; cartoonist Gary Trudeau; and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
What is Stamp Collecting
"Stamp collecting" is the accumulation of material related to the payment of postage and the carriage of the mails. In addition to traditional postage stamps, many philatelists -- the fancy word for stamp collectors -- also collect covers, envelopes that carried mail. Some individuals also collect markings or labels applied to mail including postage meters. Others will even collect Christmas Seals, revenue stamps and other ephemera.
Why Collect Stamps
Most individuals collect for relaxation and enjoyment although many secretly hope that they will discover a rare and elusive stamp that will make them wealthy. Some individuals collect as an investment. While the American Philatelic Society does not promote this, stamp collecting is a better investment than many other hobbies. As stamps are miniature works of art, it's nearly impossible to collect them without gaining a large amount of knowledge. Stamps also usually provide a much greater return on your investment than other hobbies. While you might not get back more than you invest, how much return can you get on your golf scorecard?