What Can Be Done: If you wanted to collect one country that only issued stamps in the nineteenth century and which gives all the joy the philately has to offer, than Queensland would be a very good choice. There are imperfs, and numerous different perforation types on the first issues, all of which make for collectable varieties. There are numerous compound perfs and watermarks, surcharges and plate varieties. Indeed, Scott make 56 major numbers out of one design type - determined by perf, denomination and watermark. All in all, Queensland issued a little over 200 different stamps.
What Can Be Done: South Australia presents the similar challenges to the other Australian States. South Australia produced most of their stamps locally, for non-philatelic purposes. Printing methods in Australia were not as refined as the finest European printers and changing postal needs and printing orders made for many printings and many varieties. South Australia has many shades and watermark and perforation varieties that distinguish only a few design types into over 150 major numbers. The stamps themselves make for good collecting,
Further, South Australia also has the most interesting Officials of any of the Australian states. Called
The United States is in a Presidential election year. For political junkies, the day to day battle of who said what matters greatly. And in November, we will elect a new President and Congress. Though elections matter for the short term goals of liberals and conservatives, the question for us here is do politics matter for philately.
The short answer is no, politics do not matter for our hobby. There are two broad time lines that affect philately. In the short term, politics have an influence on o
What can Be Done: Italy and the Italian Area is one of the most interesting of collecting specialty areas. It combines all the things that a philatelist likes to have in their specialty. There are the difficult classics in the Italian States—wonderful specialty areas in their own right like Sardinia or Two Sicilies. Italian States stamps are rare, and they provide many challenges for the advanced collector. Italy proper is attractive and completeable. The Italian Colonies are interesting with many scarce and desirable stamps. Italy maintained numerous Post Offices abroad in Turkey, in the Aegean, and in Chin
What can Be Done: Collecting the stamps of British Commonwealth is probably the most popular philatelic specialty worldwide. In nearly all major stamp collecting countries (such as the United States and Germany), specializing in British Commonwealth ranks second behind the stamps of the native country itself. In no country does collecting British Commonwealth rank first, but because it ranks second in so many areas, the overall number of British Commonwealth collectors is very large.
British Commonwealth offers the specialist wonderful collecting opportunities. Scores of British colonies were amo
What Can Be Done: If you wanted to see two different models for how countries handle great natural resource wealth, look at Norway and Venezuela. The Norwegians have taken their great North Sea oil wealth and created a modern welfare state with high levels of employment, benefits, and citizen satisfaction. Venezuela has the same resources, and it has led to corruption, poverty, and political discord.
The philately of Venezuela is very difficult. The nineteenth century stamps were printed by lithography and typography, two of the easiest printing methods to duplicate, and thus forgeries are very common. Man
What Can Be Done: Uruguay is a wonderful country to collect. The classics are interesting and hard to find, but not particularly pricey. The Uruguayan first issues are called the "Suns," and they have long had tremendous specialty interest by themselves. The later nineteenth century has many better stamps (and in Uruguayan philately a “better” stamp sells for $50 where in US or British philately it would sell for $500). There are many surcharged issues in the latter nineteenth century (There are probably more surcharged issues in Latin America from 1870-1930 than the rest of the world combined. Many of these Latin American countries were poor, and inflation and economic problems were common. It was far cheaper to s
Certainly, in the United States, US philately is the most popular. Probably 80% of American stamp collectors collect US and more than half the stamp dealers in this country are US dealers exclusively.
What Can Be Done: United States stamps offer a specialist tremendous opportunity. There are over 4,000 different mainstream stamps as listed by the Scott catalog. There are many rarities, but all but a few of the thousands of stamps issued over the last 65 years ca
What Can Be Done: Turkey is one of the longest inhabited regions of the world and one of the first and oldest centers of sophisticated civilization (the eastern Roman Empire continued to exist, with its capital at Constantinople, until 1453- nearly a thousand years after the Rome itself fell). It is also one of the most interesting countries to collect in all of philately. The classics are fascinating, fairly crude in printing and design, and are hard to find. They are unlike any other stamps in our hobby. There are many scarce and rare items in the nineteenth century, but so many of the stamps are easily obtainable, that it makes the attempt for completion very enjoyable. The early twentieth century is a collecting specialty all of its own with
What can Be Done: Switzerland is one of the most specialized countries to collect. As part of the Central Europe German speaking band of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, Switzerland is highly specialized in all of its phases. Before issuing stamps as a country, Switzerland issued stamps by various Swiss states (called Cantons). These Cantonal issues from the 1850s are nearly all very scarce and pricey and have long represented some of the most sought after classic issues in our hobby. The Swiss issues proper are divided by specialists into several periods. The imperforate period is prized, and many of the classic imperf issues (called "Rayons" by specialists) are plateable, and many specialists try to reassemble full sheets. The second united S
What Can Be Done: Saxony is one of the four or five major German States and one of the most collected. There are many varieties of stamps. The first stamp, referred to usually quite simply as Saxony # 1 is a rarity and catalogs over $5000. There are many forgeries of this stamp, and even many replicas and reproduction, which wouldn't fool a serious collector, but are treacherous for collectors, who have never seen a genuine example. Do only buy this stamp from a reputable source. After the Saxony # 1, the rest of the stamps of Saxony are very affordable, well printed and provide great fun collecting.
What Can BeDone: Prussia was the main component state of the German federation that united in 1871. It was Prussian pressure on the rest of the German states that caused Germany to become one country. The reason for Germany uniting was to have the geopolitical heft to compete with the rest of Europe. But the way most Europeans saw it - Prussia was Germany. It is for this reason that the philately of Prussia is so interesting.
Prussia issued 27 different stamps. None of them are rare, as the active commercial economy of Prussia necessitated much postal communications. Prussian post offices encouraged the use of postage stamps whereas some of the smaller German states did not. This means that a plentiful supply of Prussian stamps have reached collector hands. Many Prussian stamps were remaindered out a
What Can Be Done: Peru is one of the most interesting countries to collect. The stamps listed by Scott as the first issues were actually produced by the American Steam Ship Company and were only for use on mail leaving the country (Technically, as restricted issues, they shouldn’t be listed as #1-2, but Scott is often inconsistent and inaccurate in this regard). The first locally produced issues are a fascinating study. They are imperf and were produced as coils, making then the world’s first coil stamps. Classic Peru is intensely specialized in by cancellation collectors, and many of these cancels sell for very high prices (there’s a specialized book on cancels by Lamy that you can borrow from the American Philatelic Research Libr
What Can Be Done: From a philatelic standpoint, Paraguay is as little regarded as it is as a nation. Landlocked, poor, and with a small population, Paraguay flies under the radar. When was the last time you saw a news story on the country? Until twenty years ago, Paraguay was really two countries—a wealthy, largely ex-European corps of immigrants who owned the country and the vast majority—descended from the original Indian inhabitants—who lived as virtual serfs. Land ownership was highly concentrated, and the country was run, usually as a dictatorship, for the benefit of the few. Recently, Paraguay has become a rapidly growing economy, it's growth largely based on growing the boutique crop stevia (a natural, low calorie sugar used
What can Be Done: Suppose you really really want a country to cede or sell you a strip of land so you can build a canal. And suppose that country doesn’t want to do that. What do you do? Well, if you were the US in the early nineteenth century and the area was Central America, you’d create a revolution, quickly recognize the new territory, and sign a treaty that gave you access to the Canal Zone where you wanted to build your Canal. And so the country of Panama was born. Because Panama was a Colombian state until 1903, the early Panamanian stamps were overprints on Colombian stamp stocks that were left behind when Colombia ceded control. These first Panamanian issues are hard to find, and many varieties are known of the overprints, even thoug
What Can Be Done: The history of the Indian sub-continent over the last 1200 years has been the geographic battle between peoples of the Hindu and Muslim faith. The Mughal Empire controlled most of India before ceding control to the British, and the simmering enmity between the Hindus and Moslems that British rule papered over came to fore after the independence of India. The Muslim northwest and southeast of India seceded from India proper. During the partition of India as many as 2 million people were killed and tens of millions more displaces as Muslims living in India moved to Pakistan and vice versa. Pakistan was created as a county with two areas separated by over fifteen hundred miles of Indian territory.
What Can Be Done: Philatelic interest is often inversely proportional to political and economic development. The reason is that poorer countries often cut corners in stamp production, reusing older issues by overprinting them. And it means that few native collectors put away any stocks of better stamps. There are few countries that have had worse politics and a poorer economy over a longer period of time than Nicaragua. In the late nineteenth century, Nicaragua (and a few other Central American countries) were approached by the printer/stamp dealer Nicholas Seebeck. Seebeck’s proposal was simple—he would produce Nicaragua’s stamps for free for the right to keep the plates and sell reprints (often indistinguishable from
What Can Be Done: The six Australian States present stamp collectors with an entirely separate philatelic world in its own right. There is no British area in the hobby that is as specialized. Many collectors find New South Wales daunting and frankly, of all the Australian States, New South Wales presents the most challenges, many of them artificial. Traditionally, philatelists have defined stamp varieties as consisting of differences in design, perforation (or none), and watermark. Subtle design differences resulting from plate retouches and later printings generally do not make for major catalog number varieties. Such is not the case with the stamps of New South Wales. Many of the first issues represent simple ret
What Can Be Done: There are five Provinces of Canada that issued their own postage stamps before confederation. All but Newfoundland had joined the Canadian Confederation by 1872. Newfoundland continued issuing its own postage stamps until 1949 when it also joined the confederation. The stamps of Newfoundland are very popular and deservedly so. They are well designed, beautifully printed, and, for the most part, reasonably priced. The first three imperforate issues of the 1850s and 1860s are unnecessarily confusing with minor shade differences constituting major Scott number varieties. After these issues, Newfoundland's iss
What Can Be Done: Mexico is one of the most complicated and difficult countries to collect. Some areas, like Germany, are difficult to collect at an advanced level but fairly easy to assemble a nice, comprehensive, specialized collection by Scott. Mexico is complex at every level. First, there are an enormous number of very rare Mexican stamps. Most countries have a few scarce stamps which makes collecting them a enjoyable climb. Mexico has so many very rare stamps that assembling a high caliber collection is like scaling Mt. Everest.
The reasons for Mexico being such a difficult country are many. F