The American Philatelic Society (APS) is the world's largest non-profit stamp collecting organization and has roots to the earliest days of stamp collecting, as it was established in 1886.
With a membership of 34,000 worldwide, the APS is a non-profit organization which provides services paid for with member's dues, purchases and donations.
That's a pretty daunting budget to meet considering the level of services and references they provide to the stamp collecting community.
Membership charges run about $50-70 a year, depending on your location and some discounts are available.
For that you get:
American Philatelist magazine - a full color 100 page monthly magazine that has interesting and varied articles and features on stamp collecting topics. Continuously published since 1887.
Library - the largest philatelic library in the nation! Check out reference materials online, in person or through mail.
Expertizing - Send in a stamp and APS experts will identify it. For any high value stamp, obtaining an expert's certificate of authenticity is a must.
Buy Stamps - you can buy stamps through the mail or an online store.
Sell Stamps - stamp dealers and collectors can sell stamps either through the mail or online formats.
Insurance - if you have a valuable collection, consider insurance.
The APS recruits new collectors and supports the hobby through exhibitions and stamp shows as well.
The APS adheres to a strict code of ethics and holds all members to that same high bar. Those that fall short have their membership revoked which could be financially devastating especially for stamp dealers reliant on sales through the APS.
Because of these high ethical standards, you can feel confident in dealing with members of the American Philatelic Society knowing you have recourse to file a complaint in response to a member's unethical behavior.
My personal opinion is that.................
..........the membership is well worth it if only to maintain the reference library and continue recruiting efforts to keep the hobby alive for the next generations.
...........but also the magazine is a fantastic read whether you're looking for leisurly entertainment or a deep philatelic analysis.
............and the want ads in the back help you put your finger on the pulse of the hobby - price trends, stamp auctions, changing interests, etc.
.............the library is world class and a perk most never use. The APS is constantly adding online content and you can always request photocopies be made and sent to you.
I am a member, APS #209756, and recommend any stamp collecting enthusiast check out their services and consider joining.