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Stamp Collecting Resources

The hobby of studying or collecting stamps, also known as philately, is something that people of all ages can enjoy. Although it can be a solitary activity, people also participate in stamp collecting groups or clubs. Becoming a stamp collector initially requires nothing more than enthusiasm and interest, a loose leaf binder, and if course stamps that a collector finds interesting. More serious collectors such as investors will use stamp albums with stamp hinges or clear sleeves known as mounts, to display their collection in a professional manner. Stamp collecting may begin inexpensively, but as with many hobbies, there are coveted, big ticket items that may require a substantial investment.

There are a variety of reasons why people collect stamps. Some collect them for their aesthetic value and may display them at home as an artistic source of pride. Others engage in philately for educational purposes, as stamps can help them learn about different cultures and history. Commemorative stamps also hold significant cultural value and are attractive to collectors and hobbyist alike. Investors who hope to make money from their collections may search for highly valuable stamps in order to sell or display.

Early History of Stamps and Stamp Collecting

The first stamps date back at least to the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s, where revenue stamps were used to tax the silk trade. The first postage stamp, the "Penny Black", was issued in May of 1840 by Great Britain to provide proof of pre-payment for postage. It lasted less than a year due to the fact that the cancellation ink was not difficult to remove, making it easy to re-use the stamps. Perforated stamps came into existence in 1854, and became widely used by most major governments of the world in the 1860s. The first philatelist was, arguably, a man from Ireland named John Bourke, who started collecting revenue stamps in the 1770s. Dr. John Edward Gray was the first known collector of postage stamps, a hobby which he started in 1840. The collection of postage stamps became widely popular with children in the 1860s, and the Stanley Gibbons Group, founded in 1856, made a business out of collecting and selling stamps.

Additional Resources

Those who are interested in philately can turn to a variety of resources to help enhance their collecting experience. There are stamp clubs available around the world, many of which have a presence online. Stamp enthusiasts can also look to organizations, including various government postal services and postal museums. Stamp dealer associations have information that is useful for prospective investors, and schools and libraries are great for philatelists in general to do various forms of stamp-related research.

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