This article looks at the hobby of stamp collecting and investigates how enthusiasts can today buy their stamps online, as well as at collector’s fairs and via specialist catalogues. Why has stamped Collecting? Stamp collecting is a primary component of philately; the study of stamps is an ancient form of a hobby which inspires great passion in its devotees.
Many collectors simply amass stamps for their love of the art, but more serious collectors will generally have advanced studies in philately and specialist subject areas of interest. Collectors will choose stamps for various reasons, their geography, value, subject matter, artistic merit, historical value or personal preference.
Stamp collections actually represent an important income source for many smaller countries, who invest in beautifully designed stamps and sell them in collections to raise revenue. These collections are often highly limited and greatly in demand. It is estimated that there are an incredible 250 million stamp collectors worldwide! A Brief History of Stamps The first stamp was issued in the UK in 1860 and was the Penny Black. The method rapidly caught on, with newer perforated stamps rapidly being issued and exchanged.
The hobby of collecting rapidly caught on amongst children, who saved used stamps from letters, but rapidly became popular with adults too. Today there are many themed collections, including stamp collections of the week on blogger’s forums, animal themed, sports themed and even TV series themed stamps. Some of the rarest stamps have reached incredible prices.
The most expensive ever recorded was the Three-Skilling yellow, which was a mistaken print! Only one copy exists and it was sold in 1996 for an incredible $2.3 million! The first two stamps of Mauritius are the second rarest stamps, dating from 1847 and there is only one unused known stamp. The first sold for $1,072,000 and the second for $1,148,000 in 1993.
The Invested Janney sold in 2007 for just under one million dollars and a block of four sold in 2005 for $2.7M! A one-seed ‘Black on Magenta’ from British Guiana sold for $240,000 and the Franklin Z-Grill from the USA sold for $930,000 USD! Other very rare stamps include the Cape of Good Hope stamp valued at $40,000 USD, The Perot Provisional of Bermuda which was last sold at $115,000 USD, the Red Revenue Small One Dollar Surcharge, last auctioned for $333,000 USD in 2009 and the Blue Military Stamp of China, which sold last for nearly $450,000 USD in 2011.
It is sometimes possible to see these extremely rare stamps at exhibitions across the world, where private and institutional collectors will permit their collections to be viewed publicly. Buying Online It is possible to buy collector’s stamps online, from sites such as the Royal Mail, specialist hobbyist sites, re-sellers and specialist websites.
Charities such as Oxfam also sell rare second-hand stamps and auction houses will sometimes sell larger collections. Collections are often sold in presentation packs or special formats, whereas current stamps will be sold in sheets. It is also possible to buy individual stamps from private sellers, although it is well worth establishing authenticity and paying for courier delivery for a high-value stamp. AUTHOR BIO Anna Mathews is a keen stamp collector and often displays her collections for stamp collections of the week at her local exhibition Centre.