About four years ago, after dragging our collection of stamps around with us in boxes for many years, we rediscovered our interest in stamps and their history. That awaking was rekindled by an advertisement found in a bathroom at a cinema complex which featured a New Zealand stamp which had sold for $28000. We were sure we had one or at least a similar one.
We then found that there were so many different aspects to the stamps we had that we began to trade in them, first on auction sites such as the New Zealand auction site Trade Me and the US auction site eBay.
Many people try to collect mint stamps which are by definition as fresh as they were on the day they were purchased but, there is now a number of new fields emerging which we have found as interesting, namely the used postmarked or cancelled stamp and the stamps which contains errors and flaws.
The former is often seeped in history particularly as many of the Post Offices are now closed and gone forever. Coupled with this is the cover where one is likely to find fully formed and clear postmarks giving the place and date of origin. In many cases these places are now just names on a map. From such covers one can often plot the journey of the cover to its destination, or its return to the sender.
The latter is of equal importance, because a stamp which has an error in its design or printing stage can render it unique and add to its value considerably.
All this has lead to a great deal of research and the investment in reference material including the two major world catalogs, the Scott Catalog and the Stanley Gibbons Catalog. For New Zealand stamps the prime reference is the Campbell Patterson Catalog.