Philately differs country to country in the degree of specialization with which it is pursued. For many Latin American countries a specialist will want only the classic stamp, perhaps a few multiples, and a cover or two. Mexico has the district overprints which offer a delight of minutiae but among Latin American philately this is rare. For old world collectors, probably no country is more specialized than Austria. Austrian collectors use the Ferchanbauer and Mueller catalogs and for the classic issues collect their stamps by mint and used, multiples, color varieties, usages, first day cancels and early usages and paper thickness (measured in millimeters) and more. The far greater specialization and attention to detail is prevalent in all the German speaking countries and in Scandinavia and is in marked difference to the philately of the rest of the world. It’s not that differences in paper thickness don’t exist on classic US or GB stamps, it’s that the collectors don’t care much. This attention to detail fits the national character of the German speaking nations (witness how their obsession with quality is used as a selling point by their car manufacturers). It is interesting to see how far national character goes in influencing our collecting.

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