Philately, the study of stamps, differs from stamp collecting, although both hobbies appear synonymous with each other. Not every philatelist collects stamps, however, and many collectors hoard rare stamps without getting involved with the tiny details behind each commemorative adhesive postmark. Building a comprehensive stamp collection may require a basic education in philatelic literature to assess the worth in its current form.

Stamp collectors will accumulate postage stamps for their historical value and unique, geographical aspects. Some collectors will acquire an interest in many different subjects depicting various events, ships, animals, and authority figures, such as Kings, Queens, Presidents and Dictators. Some countries create limited runs of stamps in order to generate an income stream based on stamp collectors contributions. For instance, the postal stamps produced by these countries far exceed the actual demand for service runs; however, the fancy, topical designs attract postage stamp collectors for additions to an ever-expanding stamp album. Most valuable stamps can be found at conventions, private meetings arranged by philately organizations and associations, garage or estate sales, auction houses, and online auction websites. Some popular tools used by philatelists and stamp collectors include: stamp tongs, a strong magnifying glass, and a perforation gauge.

  • Learn About Stamps: What is stamp collecting, how does one begin a collection, and more. This website gives an overview of stamp collecting and helps to teach beginners more about the hobby.
  • American Philatelic Society: FAQ: A nationally recognized organization centered on philately and stamp collecting. This website includes stamp history, types of stamps, stamps characteristics, the various procedures to valuing, buying, and selling stamps, and other pertinent information regarding the stamp collecting hobby.

  • National Postal Museum: Gives an overview of women in the postal service as well as various women who were featured on American stamps.
  • The Smithsonian Institute: Philatelic Hobby: A brief overview of philately as a hobby. This three-part series includes sub-categories, such as famous American collectors, popular tools used by philatelists, and various collections featured by the Smithsonian Institute.

  • Rare Postage Stamps of the World: This site shows the 14 rarest stamps in the world and in the United States. The website also helps people locate the value on various postage stamps.
  • Columbia College of Chicago: Philately: This comprehensive resource details every aspect of philately, including its definition, related clubs and associations, postal agencies, auction websites, stamp dealers, literature, libraries, stamp shows, activities and events.

  • University of Colorado: Philatelic Resources: An extensive list of philatelic resources covering material, such as the Scott Catalog, popular images, well-known stamp collecting societies, and trusted websites.
  • UNC Charlotte: My Philatelic Collection: A private philatelic collection from Arindam Mukherjee, a student enrolled into the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. This philatelic collection features stamps from British India, Princely States, India, French India, and Portuguese India.

  • New York University: Philatelist: A creative writing essay that portrays the life of an esteemed philatelist: Henry Tevlin.

  • University of Richmond: Teaching with Stamps: A tutorial for novice stamp collectors that wish to building their small collections into an impressive philatelic library. This includes a FAQ section that addresses specific concerns, such as start-up methods and the various stamp classifications related to philately.

  • Columbia University: The Internet Gives Big Boost to Time-Worn Hobby of Stamp Collecting: An article addressing how the Internet revived the time-worn hobby of stamp collecting.

  • Pacific Union College: Pitcairn Philately: The trace of Pitcairn philately beginning with its first influential edition of the First Definitive in 1940 to the Royal Wedding as depicted in 2011.

  • University of Dayton: Mary on Stamps: A comprehensive website addressing Marian philately, including the various Christian motifs, first influential Marian stamps, first Nativity stamp, and a popular organization that chronicles religious stamps.

  • Emory University: A Holocaust Stamp Chart for Israeli and Topical Judaism Philately: A stamp chart detailing the history of Israeli and Judaic philately.

  • The American Stamp Dealer's Association: A popular American stamp dealing association serving philately since 1914. Members of the ASDA represent various segments of the philatelic market place.

Philately History

Postage stamp collecting began simultaneously with the issuance established by the country of origin. Thousands of stamp collectors and dealers emerged by 1860, which was acknowledged as a new study and hobby that spread across the Western hemisphere. The first postage stamp, known as the Penny Black, depicted Queen Victoria during her younger years. The “Penny Black” was non-perforated, which caused producers to cut each sheet with scissors for usability. Stamp collectors rarely find an unused “Penny Black” stamp; however, previously used stamps hold value of anywhere between $20 to $200, depending on its condition.

John Edward Gray, one of the most influential stamp collectors in philately history, began to collect postage stamps as soon as the postal system was established, and before collection became a popular hobby. Philatelic and stamp collecting publishers took advantage of the growing postage stamp collection craze. Children and teenagers were among the early collectors during the late 1860s and 1870s. Many adults dismissed stamp collecting as childish pursuits, however, some began to study the available postage stamps and published books about them. Some invaluable stamps, such as the Cape of Good Hope, have left a lasting impact in the study of philatelic history.

Types of Philately

Philatelists work in different aspects of stamp analysis, including nine different philately subsets, such as traditional philately, thematic philately, postal history, aerophilately, postal stationary, Cinderella philately, philatelic literature, revenue philately, and maximaphily. Each of these subsets study various aspects of stamp collecting. For instance, traditional philately examines the stamp design process, paper used, printing methods, the gum, separation methods, overprints, security markings or perforated initials, and signs of forgery. Thematic philatelists study the stamp's depictions. Postal history solely focuses on postal stamps actually used in mail. Postal history philatelists may also study postmarks, post offices, postal authorities, postal rates, postal regulations, and the postal transitional process. Aerophilately strictly specializes in the study of airmail. Postal stationary philatelists will study stamp envelopes, postal cards, aerogrammes, and letter sheets. Cinderella philatelists study objects that look similar to stamps, such as Christmas Seals, Easter Seals, and propaganda labels. Other philatelists examine philatelic literature, stamps previously used to collect taxes or government and legal fees, and picture post cards.

Philatelic Organizations and Societies:

There are currently 69 national and international philatelic organizations, associations, and private societies. Generally, each locality will launch a philatelic-related organization that will arrange conventions, meetings, assign governing bodies, and may print a monthly journal that highlights special philatelic events. Some countries organize philatelic members as a means to help generate income. International philatelic organizations may attract stamp collectors from all over the world to better understand foreign stamps.

  • British Columbia Philatelic Society: A Vancouver-based philatelic organization bringing members together since 1919.

  • Federation of New York Philatelic Societies: A federation uniting philatelic organizations within the State of New York. The Federation of New York Philatelic Societies organizes conventions and shows, assigns judges and officers, and issues a monthly philatelic journal covering issues related to the area.

  • Texas Philatelic Association: The Texas Philatelic Association unites philatelists from the State of Texas through conventions and shows, issues a monthly philately journal, and assigns roles of judges and officers to govern the club.

  • Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society: The Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society seeks to unite collectors of Ukrainian postal materials, such as stamps, coins, and medal collections.

  • Germany Philatelic Society: The Germany Philatelic Society aims to promote interest in philately, philatelic research, and arranging philatelic conventions and meetings for the purpose of preparing and distributing philatelic literature.

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