Once in a while you’ll see a Letter to the Editor in the philatelic press from someone who is new to organized philately. To summarize, they go to a stamp club or a stamp show and they become very discouraged because others are quick to point out all of the things they are doing wrong. For example, “Collecting the world is too big, you need to concentrate on one country,” or “You should buy early stamps because they are worth money. The stamps you are collecting are worthless,” or “You can’t use plain sheets of paper to mount your stamps, you must use a printed album.” Things like that.

There are some things that people do that are destructive to stamps. For example, people use adhesive tape to mount stamps. Over time, the adhesive turns brown and oily and it damages the stamps or covers. When I see things like this, I don’t yell at people. Yelling doesn’t accomplish anything. Instead, I carefully describe the consequences of using adhesive tape.

However, if someone likes to collect “Fish on Stamps” as a topical collection and their collection is made up of stamps from Pacific islands that have a policy of releasing thousands of stamps with no connection to the island, so what? If you like fish and that’s what you want to collect and that’s what makes you happy, so be it.

If you want to talk money and what those stamps are worth, that’s an entirely different subject. But if someone collects this kind of material and they don’t care if their collection is worth $1 or $1000, why not let them collect what brings them enjoyment? Who cares if they use hinges or acetate mounts? Does it matter if they are in a printed album or not?

I like US stamps and identifying some of the older stamps can be challenging. To me, it’s kind of like detective work. That’s my angle. But to someone else, they may find identifying such stamps very frustrating.

I encourage people to collect what they enjoy. Don’t let others force their policies and procedures on you. I would avoid things that can destroy stamps or destroy value. However, I don’t believe you have to follow the herd and collect the same way everyone else does.

Find your niche. Be happy. And enjoy philately. That is the most important thing you can do.