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People choose to collect stamps for a variety of reasons. For some, the choice is purely an economic decision. Since stamp collecting is such a widespread phenomena around the world, it is possible for a wise hobbyist to make a profit from his or her collection. For these hobbyists, the main objective is to collect those that are rare or that were mistaken prints, as they fetch the greatest amount of profit.
For others, the motivation to collect stamps is the pure joy of collecting. Locating and purchasing rare stamps or stamps needed to complete a particular type of collection provides the individual with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Just the pure joy of the hunt and the find is enough reason for some people.
Stamp collecting is also a great way to meet new friends who share a common interest. Therefore, some people who choose this hobby do so for the camaraderie and the opportunity to share with others and to meet other people from around the world. With numerous stamp collection conferences hosted annually throughout various countries and multiple forums and websites dedicated to stamps, it is possible to create a broad circle of friends built around this hobby.
Some people also collect stamps in order to commemorate special events or interests. For example, some may collect those that follow a particular theme or that feature a particular item. A music fan, for example, may only collect stamps that depict famous musicians. Similarly, a nature lover may collect those with flowers and animals, or a history buff may stick to those designed to commemorate various important events in history.
For some, the stamps themselves represent history. For these individuals, the hobby is based on the desire to maintain a living history of their country. Collecting rare stamps dating back over a hundred years can help one gain a piece of living history.
Still others collect stamps simply because they are intrigued by the many designs, pictures, and colors found on them. Similar to someone who collects art or antiques, these people do so simply for their aesthetic appeal and the joy they feel when looking at their collection.
These are all great points! I recently rediscovered philately myself (I think it's the new trend in cool hobbies). There is also a great article by Armand Rousso "Philately Extends Life". you can find it in his online blog. I recommend this article to everyone who is considering stamp collecting as a hobby. Arman, who is the founder of the first online stamp exchange points out that stamp collecting is a great way to learn about art and get kids excited about learning, and much more.