How Do I Shop for 19th Century US Stamps?
A worthwhile and enjoyable hobby for everyone from age 1 to 101, collecting stamps has long been an American pastime as well as a popular hobby in all different parts of the world. People start collecting stamps for myriad reasons, from wanting to sample a bit of history, to desiring to own hard-to-find collectibles to display. While there are many different nuances to collecting stamps, particularly if you are interesting in worldwide types, many collectors choose to own used United States stamps from the 19th century. Many of these pieces are highly collectible, Civil-War area pieces, and there are different types to look for.
Why Begin Collecting Stamps?
No matter what type of stamps you choose to collect, there are a few reasons it’s a worthwhile hobby in the first place. Some reasons include:
- Joining an already-established hobby. With over 20 million collectors worldwide, it’s easy to jump into the hobby at any point. Enjoy looking for stamps online, or at trade shows. Use the internet to ask questions and research the hobby.
- It’s a worthwhile investment. Rarely would someone take up a hobby if it wasn’t fun, but many choose to collect stamps because of the potential investment. Like any other type of market, prices can fluctuate, but stamps have a tendency to hold their value and often gain more.
- Easy to begin. While collecting is a worthwhile investment, it’s okay to start collecting any type of stamps. Some of the most aesthetic and interesting stamps may not hold a high value—but they’re awfully nice to display on a wall or in a collection.
What Are Some Different Types of 19th Century US Stamps?
If you’ve decided to start looking at some different 19th century US stamps, you’re collecting during a time of rich history. From the Civil War to the eve of the Industrial Revolution, stamp collecting actually came to be a hobby during the 1800s. In fact, the first stamp was issued in 1847, and of course, this is a highly collectible stamp. Different types of 19th century stamps include:
- The 5-cent stamp. During its time, this was the cost of a letter travelling up to 300 miles.
- The 10-cent stamp. During the 1800s, this paid for a letter to travel greater than that of 300 miles.
- Smaller denominations. Look for 1c, 2c, 3c, and 4c stamps from the 1800s.
- Higher denominations. You will also find a 10c stamp, as well as a 15c, 20c, 34c, and 80c stamp. You could also purchase a stamp with a a value of $1 or $5. Indeed, the rarest and most collectible stamp from the 19th century are the first-issue stamps. These include a 5-cent stamp featuring Benjamin Franklin, and a 10-cent stamp featuring George Washington.
What Are Different Stamp Conditions?
Like many other collectibles, condition is everything when it comes to stamps, so it’s wise to know what the different conditions are and what they mean. When it comes to used/unused stamps, you may often see:
- Original gum. This means the stamp has the original adhesive on the back. This is another way to describe mint condition stamps.
- Regummed. Some stamps have adhesive reaffixed to the backside; these stamps are “regummed.” They may be in good condition, but cannot be mint.
- Unhinged. This stamp has not been mounted or affixed.
- Unused. This stamp may have no gum, or may be regummed.
- Hinged. This stamp was used, and you can see traces of the original mount.
- Never hinged. This is another way to say “original gum,” or “mint.” You will see condition grades as well, ranging from superb (mint) to poor. Other conditions include extremely fine grade, very fine grade, fine to very fine grade, fine grade, and average grade.