Trends in Cover Collecting

There are fashions in philately as there are in most things. In cover collecting there has always been a trend for collectors to acquire postal history that displayed new communication technology. In the early twentieth century Rail Road post office covers became popular. To speed mail delivery in the late nineteenth century, the post office maintained post offices on trains so that mail could receive its final sort on the way to its destination. To keep track of what happened to these letters, cancellations were applied from the railway post offices. Collecting these covers and cancellations was very popular in the 1910-1950 period. When airplanes began carrying the mail about 1920, collectors began desiring airmail covers, mostly early flights. The 1930’s saw the rise of Zeppelin cover collecting. And the 1960 saw the rise of space philately. Each of these areas of cover specialization enjoyed keen popularity for a while and then declined (and continue to decline) in popularity. They caught the imaginations of a generation of philatelists and then, when they were no longer novel, began a long slide into the philatelic fringe. Some areas of postal history collecting never seem to go out of fashion though. War philately has always been popular and the Civil War is as popular today as ever. But other collecting fashions change as rapidly as hemlines on dresses. Perhaps the reason is that technology changes so quickly that what seems the latest innovative way of delivering communications is soon supplanted. War, however, is eternal. And certainly with our red state, blue state division we are still living with the effects of the Civil War today.

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