Collecting can start overtly or by serendipity, but in either case the lifestyle impact can vary between a periodic pursuit of additions to a long-term fixation on scooping as much as one can find or afford.
For many of us, collecting started at an early age via stamps and/or coins.
With the former category, in my own case, not only was I building up a portfolio of international, primarily mint editions often in sets, but also new and used Canadian releases. The latter version was supplemented by accumulations provided by family members from personal or business mail. The volumes available from what is now called ‘snail mail’ were appreciable, until the overall decline in popularity especially since the late 1990s. It was customary until about this time to use colourful, glossy covered stamp albums, usually holding them via extremely thin, gummy hinges. However, over time the easily damageable stamps could be affected by warping or sticking. This has influenced modern collecting, which uses specially designed plastic sheets for maximum preservation and protection.
There are parallels with coin collecting.
It was customary to save circulation coins in special books with holes cut out sized to hold whatever the denomination. Similarly to stamps, special pocket sheets were also developed and are the preferable way to keep the circulation version. Special collector coins, which have increased in prominence thanks to issues from national institutions such as the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), typically are received in individual plastic envelopes or hard plastic covers, again providing high quality protection and presentation. Also, with limited mintings, the latter typically have a legend or script which includes a specimen issue number.
Point number one: as with other collections, supply, demand, condition, and set completeness are the key ingredients in establishing values. Remember that stamps must be treated with proverbial kid gloves. With coins, be wary of coin cleaning solutions, especially if not designed specifically for the purpose, as the result may look unnatural and thus lower values.
Point number two: the number of retail outlets for stamps and coins has considerably diminished over the years. Institutions such as Canada Post and the RCM have increased profile and market awareness (not to mention packaging) of the collectible side of their products, with the former in particular expanding outlets for obtaining their wares. Meanwhile, as with so much else, the internet has become instrumental for such institutions in providing purchase options, as well as there being exterior sites which gauge current values or assist in resale supply/demand transacting.