Stamp Collecting

Did you collect stamps when you were at school? Do you remember the enjoyment of obtaining stamps by asking friends and relatives for any stamps off their letters, or maybe you saved up money from birthday presents to buy attractive stamps.

Many people throughout the world collected stamps in this way. Typically, interest in stamp collecting wanes during the teen-age years as people focus on their studies, and later on, their careers, families and mortgages. However quite a few people return to this hobby as adults, possibly with access to more disposable income. Some continue to collect stamps in the same way they did as children. Other people collect stamps in a more specialised fashion.

Broadly speaking, there are three ways in which collectors can specialise

  • The design of the stamps. Choose a particular theme which might be a hobby, or something that interests you such as flowers or football. You can collect stamps that feature this theme in the design. People also collect other non-stamp items with these designs such as aerograms or postmarks or postcards.
  • The way in which the stamps were produced. Some people concentrate on a particular stamp issue. They collect things such as the artist’s drawings and various items such as colour trials prepared by the printers before the stamps were actually issued. Some stamps were in use for many years, so there were later printings that may have differences in the type of paper, the watermark, the size of the perforations and many other aspects. Sometimes the wear and tear caused noticeable differences in some stamps, which are called errors or flaws.
  • The way in which the stamps were used. Many collectors concentrate on the whole envelope, not just the stamp. This lets you see the postage rate, which changed over time. You can also see the different postmarks used to cancel the stamps. You may also be able to deduce the route that the letter travelled to its destination, and before you know it you are also learning about the developments of communications by ship or by aeroplane.

The term “Stamp Collecting” is in itself a misnomer. It is a generic term covering the accumulation of actual mail, or material relating to the actual or intended carriage of mail, whether carried or issued by a postal authority or private source.

In other words, “Stamp Collecting” does not necessarily relate to the collecting of “stamps”, per se. In fact, there are many fine collections of material carried prior to the issue of the first postage stamp in Great Britain in 1840.