Everything you need to know about the world's favourite hobby and the many ways to build a collection. Featuring expert advice, vivid examples, famous issues and over 500 images of stamps from around the world. This is the ultimate guide to embarking on, and getting the very most out of, the world's most popular hobby. Simple advice starts with the very basics - types of album, types of mounting, where to acquire or buy different types of stamp - and builds from there. There is a huge amount of inspiration for the novice, with countless examples of the bizarre and beautiful stamps that have emerged since the very first issue of 1840. The book gives a complete background, starting by charting the evolution of the postal services and the wealth of collectable material they have generated, from early cancellations made with sections of cork to the pioneering 'first flight' Zeppelin issues, and the advent of rail, boat and air as methods of mass delivery. The parts of a modern-day adhesive stamp are explained which, alongside tips on how to assess grade and condition, will help the amateur philatelist to understand the value of their own collection. There are also step-by-step instructions on how to preserve the quality of stamps while mounting them for display, and valuable guidance on entering the stamp buyer's marketplace, whether attending exhibitions and stamp fairs, or using an on-line auction site. The book encourages the reader to be imaginative about building a collection, and to develop a particular interest in a country, period of history, or theme. It discusses how competitive philately is increasingly taking note of collections augmented by the inclusion of surplus, non-philatelic material, such as photographs and newspaper cuttings. There are also special spreads on the philatelic 'Cinderellas' which were once ignored by collectors but are now being rediscovered, such as colourful poster stamps, specially-produced local and incidental stamps, the issues of private posts, plus charity seals, special service labels, forgeries, flaws, and many more. This book celebrates the diversity of stamps, and their role throughout history and in the modern world, both as an aid to mass communications and a record - in miniature - of the historical events commemorated by countries across the world. Beautifully illustrated with over 500 colour stamp issues, this book is sure to appeal to anyone interested in starting to collect stamps, as well as those already pursuing this absorbing hobby.