Stamp collectors use stamp tongs because postage stamps can be harmed by fingers attempting to grasp or hold them. Even hands that have been thoroughly washed have a coating of skin oil that can rub off onto the surface of the stamp. Once this oil is on the stamp, it can stain the printed design, either immediately or by reacting with the ink over time. On the back of a stamp, fingerprints can also appear on the otherwise unblemished gum of mint stamps that have been held with fingers.
Perforation gauges are used to measure the perforations along the edge of a stamp. Occassionally, a perforation gauge is needed to properly identify stamps.
Every stamp collector needs a magnifier to observe the finer, more interesting details of a stamp. Magnifiers are used to observe security features, such as small print and fine lines, stamp defects, and small variations in the many types of printing methods. Magnifiers are especially needed for Canadian stamps where many have the date hidden in the stamp's design.
Many stamps have luminescent ink along the edges that facilitate the automated canceling process used by postal services. Additionally, some stamps contain hidden design features that are only visible under UV light. A UV light is a must-have for any stamp collector.