Specialization is probably the major trend of modern philately. In 1950, a highly representative collection of United States stamps from 1847-1947, the first 100 years, missing only stamps that are known in quantities of less than 1,000 would have cost the collector about $5,000— a decent piece of change, but even in 1950 not beyond […]

Specialization Read More »

Philately Today

When most people begin to collect stamps, they are general collectors, that is, they collect the entire world and try to get one of each particular philatelic variety. In the late nineteenth century all collectors were generalists. By the year 1900, there were only a few thousand varieties that could be collected, most of which

Philately Today Read More »

The Hobby In Europe

In Great Britain, Stanley Gibbons had the good fortune to be born the same year that the first postage stamp was issued. He was not born on the first day, May 6, but that seems to have bothered him only a little. He loved his stamps— and other people’s too. He was a collector by

The Hobby In Europe Read More »

The Hobby Takes Hold

Major car companies in Detroit have long had an adage that their sales are only as good as their dealerships. The theory is that many people choose their car based on the quality of the dealer that they go to— his displays, prices, service, and willingness to accommodate. Philately was well served by its early

The Hobby Takes Hold Read More »

What’s In A Name

Stamp collecting began almost coincidentally with the issuance of stamps. An advertisement in The Times of London in 1841 spoke of a lady desiring to paper the walls of her dressing room with Penny Blacks. She asked that people send her any stamps they might have received in the mail to enable her to complete the task.

What’s In A Name Read More »

A Sticky Situation

A stamp must be affixed to a letter in order to serve its intended purpose. To accomplish this, the vast majority of stamps are gummed. Some stamps, like the ones the Dutch sent to their Asian and West Indian colonies, were sold and sent without gum. In the nineteenth century, a long boat trip to

A Sticky Situation Read More »


When Rowland Hill invented the postage stamp, he made no provision for the separation of stamps on sheets. All stamps were issued imperforate, without perforations between stamps, with cutting the only means of separation. Hill did not expect that his stamps would prove all that popular; rather, he believed that his letter sheets and preprinted

Perforations Read More »


The most philatelically significant aspect of paper is watermarks. Watermarks are the pattern placed on the mat or roll on which the paper is produced. Both laid and wove paper can be watermarked. Watermarks were developed as a form of advertising for the papermaker. When held up to the light, the pattern that was placed

Watermarking Read More »

Paper Varieties

The most carefully engraved design in the world still needs its canvas, and the canvas of a stamp is paper. There are many types of paper for printing; however, they all have one factor in common— a fibrous weave. Paper takes an ink design in printing (and writing) by allowing a measure of the ink

Paper Varieties Read More »

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top