I suspect many of us have collected stamps at one time or another and many still do. Philately is one of the World's greatest hobbies and whilst we might all dream of the rare find, the sale and a life of comfort to follow most of us collect for the sheer joy of collecting.
I started collecting in the early 1960's and I still remember being hugely disappointed at not being able to by the 1966 World Cup Winner's (England) overprint stamp from a Post Office in Wales. Up until 15 years ago my collection was very general, without order, structure or theme.
I have always been interested in Aircraft and with the advent of the increasingly popular Thematic collecting I decided that the time was right to develop a theme of collecting, around a subject which interests me.
Aircraft it was and armed with the newly published Stanley Gibbons "Collect Aircraft on Stamps Catalogue" I embarked on a branch of the hobby that has held my interest ever since. I would say that a catalogue is essential not just for pricing but also for knowing what has been printed and occasionally finding a stamp with an aircraft that isn't in the catalogue. Whilst establishing the scope of your collection you might like to think, do I collect a theme within a theme, jet aircraft, civil or military, World War II, the development of aviation, sea planes, balloons etc. I couldn't make up my mind so I have a general aircraft collection, which I think will be narrowed down to a theme within a theme.
I wanted to make the collection different in terms of the displaying of the stamps and quickly found that there are no pre-printed albums, or pages for Thematic collections, so I devised my own and after several attempts I have a format, which suits me. I would advise that if you start to collect any theme you could choose your own display format. The next decision was mint stamps or used, I went for mint they seem to be easier to find. The next decision was whether to buy mint stamps that had previously been mounted, and whilst I don't have a hard and fast rule mint stamps issued prior to World War II are hard to find un-mounted without paying a premium and so I settled for the best I could afford, remembering that this collection was about the front of the stamp.
I started my collection by trawling my existing accumulations and locating a number of Aircraft Thematics, these were mounted on my newly designed pages using mounts supplied by Hawid or Prinz which protect the stamps and allow worry free display.
So the collection goes on, some countries are complete, (until they issue new stamps), some countries will never be complete, cost is a big factor. The collection grows, the enjoyment remains, the finds are still proving elusive but I still think the biggest reward is the enjoyment.