Beginner’s Guide to Stamp Collections and Philately


Jan 01, 2014 Europe/London

Stamp collecting among enthusiasts traces a long history dating back to the early 19th century.  The art of collecting and studying these postage stamps is called Philately, taken from the Greek word ‘atelia’ which means ‘exempt from tax’.
The popularity of collecting these items started to grow after the introduction of adhesive postage stamps on May 6, 1840 in Great Britain. The introduction of stamps is actually part of a move to improve the postal system. Before the actual introduction of stamps in the region, the way to determine the cost of sending letters was by calculating the distance to be covered in the British Isles and the volume of paper. Starting January 10, 1840, the main determinant became weight, and one was required to pre-pay for the service. During this time, the uniform rate for inland postage was pegged at 1d to be paid in cash. With the introduction of 1d Black in the industry, sending letters was made much more convenient. This move by Great Britain was followed by other postal administrators which in turn helped popularize the idea of collecting stamps. The hobby became more widespread in the 1860s when albums and catalogues were made available.

How to Start Your Stamp Collections?

There are different ways on how you can start your own collection and dabble in philately. The best trick is to track down the stamps issued by countries with a rich history, or focus on specific time periods that helped shaped regional or world history.
You can take your hobby to the next level by paying attention to variations in stamps and the watermarks used in materials. It is recommended that you interact with like-minded individuals or check out exhibitions to learn more about the hobby.

Find Stamps the Easy Way

The popular source of stamps is the Post Office. You can also check out fairs and auctions where you can look for rare items that you can include in your collections. It pays to read some magazines and newsletters that are focused on this hobby. These are great resource materials that can inform you about upcoming fairs and auctions, and can also help you understand more about this hobby. You can also join organizations where you can talk about and swap stamps. There are online resources and websites too that can help you find what you need. Sites like Stamp Circuit can provide you with a platform where you can get information on auctions and read more about the hobby through the magazine.

Suggested Stamps for Collections

There are different kinds of stamps available. A popular base for collections is the postage stamps. Postage Stamps can be categorized into three - definitive, commemorative and provisional.  The most common are the definitive or your ordinary stamp used for sending letters and printed in sheets. The commemorative stamp is normally issued to commemorate an event or a jubilee. Provisional, as the name suggests is used as temporary issue. Your stamp collection can also include the postage due stamps. There are air mail stamps as well that were popularized in the 1920s when sending packages or mails by air. Other forms of stamps that can be collected include charity stamps, special delivery stamps, government department stamps and postal stationary. Philately is both an art and a science that requires great attention to details and of course, patience. If you want to invest in a great collection, then it’s best to should know your resources and sources of information and work with like-minded individuals who appreciate this special hobby.