I've just got my copy of the Fischer catalog (Poland) ed. 2020 At the beginning, there is a small introduction in three languages, polish, german and english, about philately and stamps in general... Since the first time i've read this introduction (2005), i've always found interesting and reasonable this section: "With or without postal cancellation?" Maybe i would have written new or used, but the question is the right one. Are you interested in stamps? So why not to consider used stamps? They're exactly the same, they've assolved their job, they cost even less... Think about! Also, genuine used modern stamps are much scarce then mint...
Personally, I'd go with a mint stamp over one that is used if the cancellation is just a glob of ink, a wavy line, etc. On the other hand, if it's a nice SON cancellation or something interesting (such as a slogan) I generally mount the used version.
I actually prefer used over mint, though I have both in my collection. I look on every used stamp as having a story to tell. Sometimes it’s clear what that story is, but often it’s more of a mystery. I love clear interesting cancels, but rarely find them these days.
As a child collection I collected any stamp. I did mainly stick to mint Canada as my grand parents delivered the mail for Canada Post. I would get every new issues. Many full sheets as gifts. i collect both now as I have grown to enjoy post marks and cancellations. Though generally it is the price that can be the determine factor. I am not collecting for « value » more for the trill of the chase as others have stated. such a great feeling when you find that all elusive one.
I have always, and always will, prefer a used stamp over a Mint stamp. A used stamp has done it's job, where as, a mint stamp is like that lazy cousin we all have, that has never done a days work, he just lays around, and looks good. I understand that some mint stamps are harder to find, especially the classics. But, in some cases, the used stamps are even harder to find than mint ones, and are worth much more.
Everyone has their own idea of what a nice stamp is, whether it is a perfectly centered, mint, with full gum, US #1 stamp, or last years Forever Flag stamp, with a smeared, wavy line cancel. It doesn't really matter which stamps you collect, mint or used, just as long as you collect stamps. You have to collect what you like and can afford, not what anyone tells you that you should collect.
Everyone also has their own way or collecting, sorting, and displaying their own stamp collection. Some people have to have every stamp perfectly mounted, in store bought stamp album, trying to fill every space with a stamp, so the pages look complete. There are people who just keep all their stamps in stock books, so their collection can be fluid, and can be changed any time they get a new stamp. Personally, I have some books with stamps hinged to pages, I have some hingleless albums full of mint stamps, hingeless albums full of used stamps, and I have some albums that are just Vario pages, laid out to look good, the way I like them. But most of all I have envelopes, stock books, and boxes full of stamps. Some that I have to sort through, and some that are just extras, but they are all "MY" stamps.
Collecting stamps is not like collecting other things, it isn't always about how much something is worth, or how much you can sell it for. To a comic book collector, a perfect looking, unread comic, is always what they want, no matter who you are. But to a stamp collector, the old used stamp may be more desirable than the perfect mint stamp. To most stamp collectors it is about the chase, finding that elusive stamp, the one that no one else can find, but you are determined to find it, for as cheap as possible, but in as good of condition as possible. We all have that "Holy Grail" stamp, you all know what I am talking about. That one stamp you have always wanted to find. You know it is out there, it calls your name every time you start looking for stamps, but you just can't hear which direction it is calling to you from. You know that you just have to find it some day, and be able to afford it. LOL.
The camaraderie that comes with collecting stamps, and engaging with other stamp collectors, is what it is all about. This Forum is what has made collecting stamps fun for me again. I have no stamp shows to go to anywhere near me, I have no stamps shop anywhere near me, I don't even know one stamp collector that lives near me, so all I have is the internet. I can buy stamps anywhere online, but I can't find knowledgeable people, who are nice, and helpful just anywhere, but we have all found that here, in this forum.
So, whether you collect mint or used stamps doesn't really matter, just so long as you enjoy collecting stamps. Collect what you like, whether it be mint or used, but never let anyone else tell you what you should collect, because there is no "Should Collect", just "COLLECT".
mikeclevenger 's comments resonated. I collect both, happily, but for different reasons.
A mint stamp is the product of postal policy, clerical needs, design, engraving maybe, printing certainly. It’s all about institutions and intentions. The individually is there, but submerged. The melody is perfection. When moving into a new collecting realm, I usually start with new stuff—if I can afford it—because I’m fascinated by the purity, the relative simplicity, the perfection. But that’s just a starting point.
Over time I drift to canceled material. A used stamp tells stories, revealed through accidents, smudges, markings I struggle to cypher. Individuality is smeared all over it.
To me, a canceled stamp also offers connections with unseen collaborators, my unknown fellow collectors. It didn’t get into my collection through me alone. Someone else spotted it, soaked it, traded it. That makes a canceled stamp the work of a team. While I never will know them, their presence is right here, in front of me. Especially with a used stamp that cost a bit, I don’t feel like I own it. It's mine to look after for a while. Now and then I wonder vaguely, who’s next?