What exactly do you need to be a matchcover collector? Well, there are basic items that you will find
indispensable, and then, as you progress to more specialized interests, you'll develop a need for more
specialized items. For example....

BASIC EQUIPMENT

LATER NEEDS

-ALBUMS: Rather than let your covers pile up in boxes and then face the daunting task of sorting and mounting them in the hundreds or even thousands, you should start off putting them in albums right off the bat. Most collectors use 3-ring binders in whatever size you prefer. I prefer the large 3" binders, but you won't need that size for very small categories that you happen to collect.

-PAGES: Most collectors are using plastic pages with individual pockets for each matchcover. They're the most expensive of the available options. Far cheaper are the paper pages designed to have the matchcovers slip into pre-cut slots. These don't afford the protection of plastic pages, though. [See the SUPPLIES page]

-PEN KNIFE: Since 95% of collectors strip the matches out of most matchbooks, you'll need a pen knife or similar instrument for easy opening of the staple [I use a letter opener, myself]. Be careful with anything that's too sharp or you'll invariably end up damaging covers.

-HAND VISE: Covers recently stripped of matches will need to be flattened before you put them in albums or send them off in trades, so a small vise does a nice job. Keep in mind you'll be doing these by the stacks.

-POSTAGE SCALE: For weighing trades and determining correct postage [nothing will lose you a trader faster than presenting him or her with "postage due" correspon- dence!]

-PAPER, TAPE, & SCISSORS: Although most collectors simply bundle stacks of covers with rubber bands because it's so convenient, it's actually better to use paper strips to create wrappers. There are ways that rubber bands can damage covers.

-CLUB MEMBERSHIP LIST(S): This is a great hobby, but you're not going to get very far by yourself. After all, it's little ol' you versus millions of matchcovers. You need help...in a variety of ways, so you need to establish contacts with fellow collectors. Each club you join will furnish you with a membership list. RMS's is the biggest. Ideally, you should belong to RMS, the closest regional club to where you live, and at least a couple of other clubs around the country.

-LISTS: Once you get settled into your categories, the use of lists allows to to seek exactly the covers you want instead of using a shotgun approach in your searchings. Lists specify exactly which covers are known to exist in particular categories. There are lists for Girlie, Group I, Diamond Quality, and hundreds of other types of covers. [See my OLDIES LISTINGS page for further examples].

-SORTING BOXES/TRAYS: You'll eventually find that you need places to temporarily put your incoming covers that you have sorted out. Shoe boxes, etc. aren't very satisfactory. Much better are, for instance, the cardboard boxes that cases of sodas come in. Just take said box and run a divider down the middle, and you have a perfect two-row matchcover tray. I also use an upright cardboard box divided into 36 pigeon holes, each labeled with a different category. You should be able to find the later commercially available in stationery stores and in teacher supply catalogs.

-BEST WESTERN, HOLIDAY INN, ETC. CATALOGS: These catalogs, normally available from any specific chain Hotel/Motel location, lists all the current locations of that particular Hotel or Motel chain...excellent as a checklist if you happen to collect that chain. You may be able to find this info on the internet now.

-REFERENCE LIBRARY: If you're not going to become knowledgeable about what you're collecting, you're probably not going to be a very successful collector. You'll find a glossary of hobby terms fairly essential, for example. You'll also want to keep articles on your categories, information that gives you an historical perspective on the hobby, the industry, and your covers. etc. Your lists, indices, checklists, specialty club catalogs, and so forth, will all become part of your reference library.

-COMPUTER: Although few collectors actually catalog their entire collections via computer (for most of us that would be far too big a task), the database possibilities alone would warrant the purchase and use of a computer in your hobby activities. Plus, e-mail allows almost instant communication with other collectors; the internet affords you almost limitless research options, etc. Additionally, the hobby is currently shifting to electronic bulletins, rosters, and auctions.

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