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Stamp album sleeve.jpg
Philately is the study of revenue or postage stamps. This includes the design, production, and uses of stamps after they are issued. A postage stamp is evidence of pre-paying a fee for postal services. Postal history is the study of postal systems of the past. It includes the study of rates charged, routes followed, and special handling of letters.

Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects, such as covers ( envelopes, postcards or parcels with stamps affixed). It is one of the world's most popular hobbies, with estimates of the number of collectors ranging up to 20 million in the United States alone.

Selected article

Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts - Quodlibet.jpg

Letter sheets are items of postal stationery issued by a postal authority. A letter sheet is a piece of paper that can be folded, usually sealed, most often with sealing wax in the 18th and 19th century, and mailed without the use of an envelope that only became popular in the late 19th century.

The first postal stationery item issued by a government is thought to be the coat of arms of Venice on a 1608 lettersheet. Part of Rowland Hill's postal reforms in the United Kingdom were the introduction of prepaid lettersheets and envelopes in 1840 designed by the artist William Mulready, whose name is always associated with these lettersheets and envelopes. Aerograms are a mid-20th century development of the letter sheet.

Selected image

Magnifying glass2.jpg

A magnifying glass is a convex lens which is used to produce a magnified image of an object. The lens is usually mounted in a frame with a handle though other designs are produced. A magnifying glass works by creating a magnified virtual image of an object behind the lens. Stamp collectors frequently use magnifying glasses to inspect their stamps. This photograph shows the magnified image of the Deutsche Post 1 Reichsmark stamp issued on May 12 1946.

Selected biography

Philipp von Ferrary.jpg

Philip Ferrari de La Renotière (1850–1917) was an early stamp collector who assembled what is considered the most complete stamp collection that ever existed. Ferrary started collecting in his youth, then inherited a great fortune, which he dedicated to the purchase of rare stamps and coins. Although he lived in Paris, Ferrary frequently travelled, meeting with dealers and often paying them in gold on the spot. He was impulsive in his buying and seemed to be indifferent to price.

He owned some of the most notable stamps known, like the unique Treskilling Yellow of Sweden, the 1856 British Guiana 1c magenta and the only unused copy of the Two Cent Hawaii Missionary of 1851.

Things you can do

There is a discussion about getting more people involved in Philately on Wikipedia. Join the discussion and share your thoughts here.

WikiProject Philately organizes the development of articles relating to philately. The collaboration focuses on one article at a time until they can proudly put that article up as a featured article candidate. This will last until they have run through a pool of "featurable" articles, then they will use a time-based system.

Currently there is one philatelic featured article, if you can help with another candidate, please do so.

For those who want to skip ahead to the smaller articles, the WikiProject also maintains a list of articles in need of improvement or that need to be started. There are also many red inked topics that need to be started on the list of philatelic topics page.

Did you know...

... that the first Penny Post was established in London in 1680 by William Dockwra nearly 200 years before the better known Uniform Penny Post that was part of the postal reforms of 1839 and 1840 in Great Britain.

... that Czesław Słania (1921-2005) is the most prolific stamp engraver, with more than 1,000 post stamps for 28 postal administrations?

... that a forerunner is a postage stamp used during the time period before a region or territory issues stamps of its own?

... that the Royal Philatelic Society is the oldest philatelic society in the world, founded in London in 1869?

... that Marcophily is the specialised study and collection of postmarks, cancellations and postal markings applied by hand or machine on mail?

... that throughout U.S. history, different types of mail bags have been called mail pouch, mail sack, mail satchel, catcher pouch, mochila saddle mailbag, and portmanteau depending on form, function, place and time?

... that Non-denominated postage are postage stamps that do not show a monetary value on the face?

... that the Daguin machine was a cancelling machine first used in post offices in Paris in 1884?

... that the first airmail of the United States was a personal letter from George Washington carried on an aerial balloon flight from Philadelphia by Jean Pierre Blanchard?

Stamp of the month

Two Cent Hawaiian Missionary.jpg

Hawaiian Missionaries are the first postage stamps of the Kingdom of Hawaii, issued in 1851. They came to be known as the "Missionaries" because they were primarily found on the correspondence of missionaries working in the islands. An astonishing lore surrounds this stamp: in 1892, one of its earlier owners, Gaston Leroux, was murdered for it by an envious fellow philatelist, Hector Giroux.

Only a handful of these stamps have survived. The stamps went on sale October 1, 1851, in three denominations: 2-cent, 5-cent and 13-cent values. A 6-cent appeared later. The design was very simple, consisting only of a central numeral of the denomination framed by standard printer's ornaments, with the denomination repeated in words at the bottom.

Although the stamps were in regular use until as late as 1856, of the four values issued only about 200 have survived, of which 28 are unused, and 32 are on cover. The 2-cent is the rarest of the Hawaiian Missionaries, with 15 copies recorded. When Maurice Burrus sold his 2-cent stamp in 1921 the price was US$15,000; Alfred Caspary sold the same stamp in 1963 for $41,000, the highest price ever paid for a stamp at the time. The current estimated value of a mint copy is GB £450,000.

Selected bibliography

Williams, Louis N., & Williams, Maurice (1990). Fundamentals of Philately {revised ed.). American Philatelic Society. ISBN  0-9335-8013-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list ( link)

Hornung, Otto (1970). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Stamp Collecting. Hamlyn. ISBN  0-600-01797-4.

Stuart Rossiter & John Fowler (1991). World History Stamp Atlas (reprint ed.). pub: Black Cat. ISBN  0-7481-0309-0.

New articles

3 September 2016 Post Office Act 1908

Expanded articles

13 Nov. 2014 Inverted Jenny –
23 Oct. 2013 Trans-Mississippi Issue –


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