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Stamps Collecting and Philately

Updated on April 2, 2016
A George Washington stamp of United States, issued in 1908
A George Washington stamp of United States, issued in 1908 | Source
World's oldest postage stamp
World's oldest postage stamp

What is Philately?

Philately is the study of postal stamps and postal history. Although it is generally related to collecting postage stamps, it is not necessary that all of stamp collectors study the history of stamps.On the other hand, it is not necessary that a philatelist possesses the stamps which he studies. The person who studies this subject, is known as a philatelist.

The study is not limited to stamps, but also includes study of other postal stationery, like Post Cards, Inland Letters, Postal Envelops, First Day Covers, Special Labels etc. It also includes study of cancellation marks, including special cancellation marks.

Branches of Philately

There are many branches of philately, which are related to specialization of the field of study. The most known branches are:

Thematic philately: Study of stamps on a specific theme. Some of the most popular themes are: Science, Sports, History, Personalities, Events etc.

Postal Stationary: The study of post cards, envelopes with stamps, inland letters, aerograms etc.

Postal History: Study of history of postal stamps and postal communication

Aerophilately: Philately related to airmail

Some Philatelic Terms

Aerogramme: A piece of paper issued by postal department for public for International communication

Air Mail: Mail sent by air, i.e. by airplanes

Cancellation Mark: The mark which cancels the value of the stamp for reuse

Commemorative Stamp: A special stamp issued for remembrance of a person or occasion

Definitive Stamp: Stamps for regular use

First Day Cover: A postal cover with newly issued stamp and a special cancellation mark. This cover is available at major post offices only on the first day of issue of the stamp

Inland Letter: A piece of paper issued by postal department for public for inland communication

International Reply Coupon: A coupon which can be exchanged with postal stamps for reply communication. This is used as reply postage for international communication

Mint Stamp: A postage stamps in its original state of issue, never used and was not pasted anywhere

Perforation: Holes between two stamps made for easy separation of them

Philatelic Bureau: A department in Post Offices where newly issued postal stamps and related material is sold

Philatelist: The person who study philately

Philately: Study of postal stamps and postal history

Postage Stamp: A piece of paper with the name of the country, price and an image or artwork, which is used as a proof of payment of postage

Post Card: A card issued by Postal Department for public for communication

Sea Mail: Mail sent by seat routes

Stamp Catalog: A catalog containing market prices of rare stamps.

Stamp Collector: The person who collects postal stamps

Surface Mail: Mail sent by surface routes

Thematic Philately: Study of postal stamps on specific themes

Topical Philately: Study of postal stamps on specific topics

First Day Cover

First Day Cover issued by Nederland Post on the occasion of 1956 Olympics.
First Day Cover issued by Nederland Post on the occasion of 1956 Olympics. | Source

Some Early Philatelists

Oscar Berger-Levrault was a stamp collector from Strasbourg, France. (1826-1903) He is known as one of the early philatelists. He is credited for his contribution in systematic and scientific collection of stamps and postal stationary. He was one of the inventors of stamp catalog.

Sir Daniel Cooper (1821-1902) was Founder President of Philatelic Society of London, now known as Royal Philatelic Society London.

Ernest de Silva (1887-1957) was a Sri Lankan businessman, and one of the world's most known philatelists.

Emilio Diena (1860-1941) was a researcher and authority on Italian stamps.

Reverend Robert Brisco Earée (1846-1928) was an Eanglish philatelist, expert in studies of philatelic forgeries.

Edward Benjamin Evans (1846-1922) was a distinguished philatelist and philatelic journalist, known for his specialization in stamps of Mauritius, Confederate States of America and the Indian feudatory states.

Adelaide Lucy Fenton (1824-1897) was the first female philatelist and philatelic journalist.

King George V (1865-1936) was a king of United Kingdom, known for his Royal collection of stamps.

Edward Stanley Gibbons (1840-1913) was founder of Stanley Gibbons Ltd., a publishing house especially established for publishing stamp catalogues, stamp-related books and magazines.

Rare Postage Stamps Video


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