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Stamp collecting

Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and things related to postage stamps. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies.

Philately is a broader term for the study of stamps, and it is frequently (and wrongly) equated to stamp collecting. A philatelist often does but need not collect the objects of his study.

In spite of its global popularity, it remains unprofitable for many individuals, giving rise to the phrase, "Philately will get you nowhere". (Who says stamp collectors have no sense of humor?..) However, stamp collectors are an important source of revenue for some small countries who create limited runs of elaborate stamps designed mainly to be bought by stamp collectors. The stamps produced by these countries far exceed the postal needs of the countries.

Despite the unprofitability of the hobby for most beginning collectors, investing in stamps ( Philatelic Investment ) is growing in popularity among more advanced collectors. Rare stamps are among the most portable of tangible investments, and are easy to store. They offer an attractive alternative to art, other collectible investments, and precious metals. In addition, for those wary of investing in single-country mutual funds or individual stocks of developing nations, stamps may provide the advanced collector/investor with a means of profiting from their economic growth.

Stamp collectors collect:

History of stamp collecting

The first postage stamp, the One Penny Black, was issued by Great Britain in 1840. It pictured a young Queen Victoria, was produced without perforations (imperforate), and consequently had to be cut from the sheet with scissors in order to be used. While unused examples of the "Penny Black" are quite scarce, used examples are common, and may be purchased for $25 to $150, depending upon condition.

Children and teenagers were early collectors of stamps in the 1860s and 1870s. Many adults dismissed it as a childish pursuit.

During the late 1800s many of those collectors, now adults, began to systematically study the available postage stamps and published research works on their production, plate flaws, etc.

It was not until the 1920s that publicity about valuable stamps encouraged a large increase in the number of stamp collectors. This rapid increase in postage stamp values was largely due to very few of the older stamps being saved in good condition. Especially difficult to find were pairs, triples, and large blocks of older stamps.

Because many U.S. stamp issues of the 1920s rose rapidly in value, during the 1930s many American collectors stockpiled mint U.S. stamps with the hopes of selling them for a sizeable profit in a few years' time. This never materialized. Even today, more than 60 years later, one can find many 1930s U.S. issues in mint condition for close to face value, and many stamp dealers and collectors still use stamps issued as far back as the 1930s for postage when mailing letters.

Most U.S. postage stamps issued since the 1930s are easy to obtain and have minimal value. Some high face value stamps, such as the $2.60 United States Graf Zeppelin issued in 1930, are worth substantial amounts of money. Other stamps issued since 1930 that are usually worth something are souvenir sheets from popular countries, hard to find plate number coils, and errors in printing.


There are different stamp catalogues available:

See also: American_Philatelic_Society