Friday, April 27, 2012

Not all Beginners are Beginners

An interesting event happened on Stamp Bears the other day. One of our members opened up a thread in the Beginners Corner about Australia - starting a country collection from scratch. Normally one would consider this  the type of post from someone just starting out in stamp collecting. In reality, however, this member has an extensive history collecting US stamps only! 

Not only did this open my eyes to the fact that ANYONE can be a "beginner" but more importantly it helps me understand this hobby better. I know that statement seems a bit off, so let us explore this a little further. 

In any hobby, life venture, or career interest is perpetuated by the desire to gain more. In some cases more physical material, more money, and often most important - more knowledge. For a person to take a risk into a new area of collecting is a huge step, and for someone with a great deal of familiarity in one area this step really brings that person back to the starting point in collecting. 

In this great example the collector needs to learn not only about the country from a Philatelic view but also needs to understand the changes in currency, politics, and the social views of a nation not yet explored by the collector.

Now admittedly I am still considered by many (myself included) a beginner but this idea, that you can always be a beginner, is great in my eyes. Now I, as a beginner, can not only share my limited knowledge, but I can learn more by participating in the conversation as this member learns along the way. Who knows perhaps a question or topic will come up that I had not considered before and this would increase my knowledge by proxy.. 

Yet another reason I love being part of Stamp Bears, and participating in this wonderful adventure of stamp collecting!!!

Happy Stamping!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mail Art

What is Mail Art? This seemingly simple question takes on a life of its own in the right circles. Some would say simply that labels, artistamps (also knows as Cinderella's), and stickers are the only forms of Mail Art. Others would argue that a specially designed cover (envelope for the uninitiated) would be the "true" form of Mail Art, and yet others still would classify Mail Art as any object, postcard, hand craft, or unusual object you can get the postal service to put through is Mail Art (I have seen very well decorated paper plates used!!)..

These are all correct. Yep, I said it! I refuse to take a stand on this one. These are all examples of some of the creativity that can be send via the postal service around the world as Mail Art. From time to time I will set up a great swap with some one or send a gift out and have been know to use a custom design on my covers and even from time to time used a Cinderella that either I have designed, or has been designed for Stamp Bears. I would even go one step further and classify a great cover with a unique set of stamps to be Mail Art. I try to select a theme and make all the stamps work together. At times I have even had the image go along with the stamps to tie the whole package into one great piece of Mail Art.

I would love to have others add to these thoughts on Stamp Bears.

Hope to see you there!!

Happy Stamping!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beginners Corner at Stamp Bears

So why do we have a beginners corner at Stamp Bears?  I try to take my personal experience as a new collector in the digital age and generate what I find useful in the hopes that others will too. There are many resources out there for collectors, search engines to help you find millions of sites with similar topics and great information. HOWEVER how many sites are inclusive with various types of information that will not only help the investment collector but the really new guy as well? Do not miss understand my point there are a lot of sites that cater to one or the other but very few (some, just not a lot) that cater to both. Even fewer are the sites that cater to the "collector" (investor new or old) and the "hobbyist" ( collecting for collecting sake and fun not as hung up on values - new or old).

Stamp Bears was created with all of this in mind. Our first members (aside from my wife and myself that is) are all like minded people who have made HUGE contributions to our site and the hobby in general in my opinion.
I would like to take a moment here and thank all of these dedicated members that started with us just about a year ago. Even if some have not been able to contribute lately for any number of reasons, our community thanks you greatly for your posts, effort, time, and energy. Saying "thank you" is not quite strong enough to convey our gratitude.

I would do our readers and members a disservice my attempting to generate a list here by join date, post count, or some other criteria that could never reflect the true contributions made. I would like to highlight a few of the many who helped get us going.. In no particular order;


and many many more to include our newest members that keep making this a great site..

All of your contributions are appreciated even if we forget o mention it from time to time.

In recent months we have been working really hard to bring in more collectors from both sides of the collecting spectrum and everywhere in between. Not to make small or take away from all of the contributions of our great members, but rather to add to them and continue growth.

When I get asked where to go by a person who is interested in starting out in the world of stamp collecting. Naturally I directed him to the stamp collecting beginners corner at Stamp Bears. We have topics covering everything from Essential Tools to Cancellations.. But we are always looking to add to this area.

We do hope that this area not only meets the needs of the new collector and hobbyist but will continue to grow and meet the needs of every collector.
Do you have a question not answered? do you have information you wish to share? Stop in and register i am sure our great community will be eager to hear from you..

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stamps of WWII Germany Collection

A quote from Bear Sat 13 Aug 2011
"i have started to re-entertain the idea of doing a WWII era collection.. now i have the over run countries set from the US and i think this is a good place to start from.. as i have 2 sets of these i was considering the following...

one binder with stock pages each section would be dedicated to Germany, each of the over run countries, and all of the Allies with stamps from that era .. now the complication (aside from acquisition LOL) there are also some stamps that have been issued shortly after that pay tribute.. i struggle with if these should be included or not..

what are your thoughts? i know its my decision in the end but i like to bounce things off people..."

From this Thread on WWII stamps over the course of the next few months (and even up until now) I have been working on this collection and the album from time to time. Keep in mind that this collection is not a promotional tool but rather a historical reminder of a darker time in history.

With the guidance of members I became inspired to create my own album pages here is an example of one of them -

After the creation of the basic album I posted it in PDF format on my wife's site for free download. Here is the link to that page stampsfrommoonstra . we also added a page (in the right column) for you to access free stamp album pages here!!

I find that as time passes and more information is learned I will need to add more pages and also expand into the study of postmarks from this era.

My hope is that our community, old members and new, can breath some new life into this discussion. If you would like to add your comments and suggestions to the thread feel free to join us at Stamp Bears to do so.

Thanks for reading and Happy Stamping!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

United States Album Pages

Yesterday I began to turn my thoughts back to my US stamp collection. Now my personal collection is set up to start in or around 1900 and go until 1960. In my opinion these are some of the most beautiful stamps that are affordable to the average hobby collector (recall I am a hobby collector not an investment collector).  Over the last year I have worked toward collecting this era and have a stock book full of material laid out in order by date of issue.
Looking back at some of our older thread to gain idea on album pages i ran across a thread titled On line album pages and the very first link we put up was from a member named philatelius who runs a great site with a TON of free album pages at philosateleia. No this man (Kevin Blackston) has an incredible site over all and the pages he generates are simply stunning. If you are a collector of US stamps this is a must visit site not just for the pages (send the man a donation for all his hard work) but for the wealth of information that Kevin has to share with the world.
After obtaining the desired pages for my collection, I laid out a plan with my wife and kids (oh yeah, they collect also and love to help big Bear work on his stuff from time to time). My wife put the pages back in the order they should be in (sooner or later I will figure out how to set up my printer!!) and my oldest girl at home found the perfect binder, while the little one decided on how to work on making the mounts (we make our own and will post a detailed how-to soon).
Now i just need to wait for the page protectors to get stocked (must be acid free archival only!) and we will begin construction of the actual album.. I am so excited.

Interesting thought - I wonder what peoples favorite set of stamps are? Perhaps a topic for a new thread at Stamp Bears?

Mine? You want to know what my favorite set of stamps is? Oh that is easy mine is the "Gingerbread" set of 1901-1907. They are listed as Scott numbers 300-319 (only 300-311 shown)

Scott # 300
Scott # 301
Scott # 302
Scott # 303
Scott # 304
Scott # 305
Scott # 306
Scott # 307
Scott # 308
Scott # 309
Scott # 310
Scott # 311

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ahhh time just keeps on moving!! In this age of digital out reach even a hobby which appears to be so anti - tech needs to keep up. With this in mind we continue to develop and promote from new avenues... We recently updated our Facebook page, updated our Twitter, started this blog and this week we are looking to update our video library!!
Personally I find it amazing that there are so many tools out there to not only help spread the word of any topic one can think of, but also to learn from and gather information. I guess in order to appreciate this statement one should take into account who I am... Granted I am still young (37), but i do recall that no one ever thought a cell phone could be smaller than a brick or that computers were for anyone other than the extremely wealthy (of which I have never been nor do i ever intend to be). I found stamp collecting on a whim actually a little over a year ago and have steam rolled right on in. Please allow me to elaborate....
I have had many hobbies and passions over the years (tattooing, fishing, fish keeping, playing electric bass guitar, and poker to name a few) but I find that in order to keep my mind occupied and be able to afford the hobby I need something inexpensive and fun. So thinking back to my youth I recalled someone having sent me some mint stamps and telling me not to use them.. Hmmm, perhaps they were on to something and considering my love of history i would look into the idea of stamp collecting further.
After a search I found a stamp collecting forum (having been a member of forums before I was familiar with the idea) and joined right up. Unfortunately the experience was not the most comfortable and the tone was a bit .... shall we just say that one day you are family the next an out cast if you shared a different view... Not my kind of place to say the least. so me being me I joined 4 more and decided to start my own... Oh i should mention that at this point i had only been collecting for 1-2 months.. Yeah I am that guy.
Now almost a full year later my Family and I continue to grow as collectors and true hobbyists. That's right not the investment type of collector at all. We have met with some of the greatest people in the hobby form the casual collector to the die hard investment type and I have to say we love them all. Everyone we encounter is eager to share their knowledge and offer tips while respecting other peoples points of view on the subject. I find peace in the idea that there are still real people out there who can talk about a subject and not become defensive when speaking from varying sides.

Stranger still is how this wonderful hobby has brought some common ground to my family and opened communication in our household even more.

Thanks for reading and happy stamping,