Broadly speaking the types of stamp collectors and their motivations fall into a few broad categories. Which category are you?
- Fossicker – The Treasure Hunter/Fossicker enjoys the hunt and finding hidden gems amongst collections and accumulations. The treasure hunter delights in spending hours searching for stamps with scarcer varieties, watermarks, or postmarks etc. They are always on the lookout for new acquisitions. The treasure hunter must ensure that he/she has an active disposal policy to ensure that accumulations do not take all available space.
- Obsessive – The Perfection Hunter who seeks the perfect example for each space in his or her collection. Whilst it may be healthy to seek stamps with no faults, good centering and attractive postmarks, the obsessive must learn to accept compromise – at least until a better example may be sourced or afforded.
Commodity Buyer – The Value Hunter who focusses on comparative value of stamps and catalogue values. In modern times the internet has allowed ease of comparative pricing, however the value hunter must ensure that he/she compares examples of similar condition and features.
- Exhibitor – The Exhibitor / Knowledge Hunter seeks to add to the Philatelic Body of Knowledge or Narrative by way of specialist collecting, research and display. The exhibition entry forms a public record of the exhibitor’s research or storey, and may gain the acknowledgement and recognition of the philatelic community.
- Thematic – The thematic collector seeks stamps of a consistent theme; eg. Birds, Butterflies or Space etc. The collection can be general or quite specific, for example a thematic birds collection may focus only on Peregrine Falcons or New World Honeyeaters. The thematic collector delights in the beauty of stamps and the layout of same, and is perhaps the most easy to please – as long as perfect examples are not sought.
- Historian – The Historian or perhaps Geographer, takes interest in the storey behind the stamp, whether it be the era, reign or subject of the stamp, or perhaps the region from where it originated. For the historian a single cancelled date (CDS) stamp can be the start of research into the date, context or location of the postmark. Often the Historian/Geographer will upgrade to collecting postal history in his/her search for knowledge or context.
Clearly, few of us fit neatly into any one of the above categories. Generally we are an amalgam of multiple categories if not all. It is however helpful to understand your own motivations and mode of reward, thus allowing maximum benefit and enjoyment from your chosen pursuit.