The Fascinating Story of Philately—the King of Hobbies

Stamp Collecting: Philately-The King of Hobbies



Stamp collecting has today become one of the most popular hobbies in the world. This Knol has been published to give you a glimpse into its history and developments. It covers the philatelist’s role, first day covers, the story of Rowland Hill the father of the postage stamp, rare stamps and even a section on the US President Franklin Roosevelt and his love for the hobby Philately-The King of Hobbies.

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Philately-The King of Hobbies

Stamp collecting has today become one of the most popular hobbies in the world. It is widely known as “

The king of Hobbies and the Hobby of Kings”, even though Kings and Maharajas have now become a historical object. The last three kings of England were keen collectors as is the present Queen . In the United States, former President Franklin Roosevelt was a stalwart in philately and ex-president Ford was a secret stamp collector. Over the years, Kings, Queens, Politicians, poor, rich, business persons, accountants, film stars, scientists and many others in different field have pursued this hobby with keen interest. In short, children, young, old and everyone is involved in this hobby irrespective of their age or positions. It truly is correctly called ‘Philately-The King of Hobbies.

Stamp collection gives not only enjoyment but also it increases our knowledge. One may get enjoyment by looking at the stamps but will not become knowledgeable by looking at it. For this, one has to search for knowledge in the past and present literatures of philately.

Philately and the Philatelist

YouTube Video
In this clip, Charlie interviews three eagerstamp collectors…

Philately is the name given to postage stamp collecting. Students of stamps are called philatelists.

The word ‘philatelist’ come from two Greek words,

Philos ’, meaning ‘
andatelos ’, meaning ‘free of tax,or
paid ’.
Stamps are the signs that the postage or tax, has been paid.

It is the study and collection of postage and revenue stamps, labels and first day covers. M G Herpin the French man has given this name “

Philately” for stamp collecting. In fact, philately is very closely associated with postal services and Department. The word “Postia” is derived from the Latin word “Postal” means “Place”. It obtained the exact meaning connected with the carrying of Letters in the later part of the middle age.

Philately is an excellent hobby. It disperses ones boredom, lifelessness and weakness. It gives full time engagement and enjoyment. Whether it rains or shines or whether it is day or night, causing no disturbance to anybody. These tiny bits of papers (Stamps) are elegantly imaginative and the viewer feels as though he travels in distant lands as he seen beautiful landscapes, pyramids, pygmies, kangaroos, lotus, birds portraits of our patriots and a variety of other themes. Stamps are messengers of International good will, peace and amity and it has become a medium of communication of ideas of culture, literature, religion, science, commerce, history and industry. Different kinds of ideas spread through stamps that go to all men and women all over the world and it is truly global. Nobel Prize winner physicists ‘ Hans Bethe ’ said,

“Stamp collecting is an orderly hobby and my album is the only place I know at the moment where the nations of the world stick together peaceably”.

This unique hobby develops the ‘Five Hs’ namely Head, Hands, Heart, Habit and Health.

Knowledge through stamp collecting, is the slogan of the American Tropical Association , Thematic collecting (collection on the basis of a particular theme or a top) improves the educational values and gives a incentive to this hobby.

For a student in India, it is advisable to collect Indian Postage stamps of the Post-Independence period as these stamps are not only easily available and cheap but also inculcate a sustained interest in the hobby itself.

First Day Covers

First day coversare special envelopes bearing stamps used and post marked on the day of issue may also be collected.The special folders brought out at the time of the issue must be collected and studied as it gives a wealth of information and increases general knowledge.

A FIRST DAY COVER ISSUED IN 1981 (From the collections of PV)

Philately is not only a subject of art but also a science in itself. Questions like “What, When, Why and Where”, the five Ws are always asked and answered “A picture is a thousand words” is a proverb and this old saying can be aptly applied to each album page of any topical collection, artistically arranged with a good write-up.

Hobby of collecting stamps is become more and more popular in our country. Few years ago there were not so many collectors or societies or clubs as they are today and on increase day by day. This shows the popularity and progress of philately. Some of the premier societies and many philatelists and of course Post & Telegraph Department have contributed tremendously towards the growth of this hobby. District level to state, National and International Exhibitions in the last ten years have enlightened thousands of interested persons on all aspects of this hobby. Today there are society magazines and plenty of literature to guide one who wants to know more about our country’s as well as other nation’s philately.

A good philatelist collects stamps for the pure pleasure they derive rather than the value aspect which is incidental.

One of the first stamp collectors recorded in history was a lady from the Isle of Wight(U .K.) who started colleting stamps in 1841. At that time, there were few stamps issued around the world. She went for quantity with an idea to paper the walls of her room and she asked for help from her friends and relatives and received parcels of used stamps. One of such parcels bursting in the Post Office resulted in a police enquiry. Ultimately it was found that she was not a fraud but just a harmless enthusiast. From this little ill-fated start, stamp collecting has today become one of the most popular hobbies in the world.

Evolution of the stamp

Click image to enlarge.


The world’s first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black was issued in Great Britain on May 6, 1840. It is just a bit of paper, printed with a black motif of Queen’s head, yet it has its own beauty and charm and is a possession to show off. It heralded the arrival of a new era in the history of communication. Not only did it ease the hazards of collecting postage but also revolutionized the communication system. The story of its birth is an interesting one.

Video Penny Black 1840
Dedicated to the world’s first postage stamp. Find the perfect gift for philatelists and stampcollectors – original designs inspired by The Penny Black avail…

In the beginning the charge for transmission of letters—postage—was calculated in a complicated way. The dispatcher would take the letter to the post office. There the person in charge would weigh it or sometimes the number of page will be counted and then the distance the letter had to travel will be calculated accordingly the postage charge is charged. If the postage is paid in advance ‘pre-paid’ the postal official would mark the charge on the letter in red and black. Sometimes if the money was to be recovered from the addressee, most of the time it leads to losses as payment was refused or letter was rejected. This lead people to find some new method of simplifying the tiresome mail system.

Two publishers James Chalmers and Charles Knight suggested adoption of wrappers to prepay postage on newspapers. Chalmers suggested a piece of paper cut in a circle resembling a seat, which would enable the sender to prepay the postage. He made some samples at his press, but unfortunately, it never materialized. Thus, James Chalmers fathered the evolution of stamp.

Father of the adhesive postage stamp

Once Rowland Hill (Father of adhesive Postage Stamp, a member of a society for popular education was holidaying in a small village in Scotland in 1836. While taking a morning walk he witnessed a pitiful scene, which was pave way to the foundation for the present postal system. The scene was very interesting a postman handed over a letter to a village girl and asked the payment of postal charges. The girls bluntly refuse the letter and the postal charges, under the excuse she could not afford to pay. Seeing the plight of the girl Rowland paid the charges to the postman and gave the letter to the girl. The girl irritated with Hill’s behavior, opened the letter, showed Hill, and said, see, there was nothing written inside and whatever her fiancé in London wanted, to convey was marked on the letter with codes. We communicate this way. Another version of the story is that, since the girl is poor and she could not pay the postage. However, Hill firmly decided to simplify the system and make the postal service within reach to the common people.

Rowland Hill’s Postal Reforms

Rowland Hillprepared a paper called “Postal Reform” its importance and the suitable remedy of reforming postal system’ (The other title of his paper is said to be ‘Post Office, its importance and practicability’). He stressed the burdensome accounting involved in sending out letters and proposed that the evaluation of postage according to the number of pages and the distance traveled should stop; instead, a flat rate should be fixed irrespective of distance. He felt that it is reasonable to charge extra for over weight letters. The establishment of uniform tariffs thus eliminated the difficult system of charges and encouraged prepayment that he hoped would become the rule rather than the exception. He also proposed the adoption of stamped letter sheets and wrappers, which the public could purchase in advance, and dispatches it at any time in post boxes placed at convenient places, even when the post office is closed.

Apart from these reforms, he also pointed out that when these prepaid letter sheets are not available, small adhesive labels can be made available. He further stated that the difficulty might be prevented by using a bit of paper. It can be covered at back with sticky wash, which the bringer might be the application of a little moisture, attach to the back of the letter so as to avoid the necessity of redirecting (in case of refusal of postage) this suggestion has given

Rowland Hillthe credit of being called the “Father of adhesive postal stamp“.

Though there was an intense disagreement, the parliament unwillingly accepted the proposal for a uniform postage system. It was on January 10 th 1840 the Penny Post system come into force. Prior to that in 1839, the British Treasury decided to carry out a competition for the probable stamps. There was about 2,600 entries submitted but only forty nine related to adhesive stamps and nineteen to adhesive stamps. Out of that only nineteen were short-listed and finally four prizes of one hundred pounds each were awarded to the entries. Rowland Hill’s design too was also one among them.

Rowland Hill and his brother Edwin created some sketches of young Queen. Later in the year 1839 their work was accepted and printed it in March 1840, (Penny Black and Two Penny Blue) by perking, Bacon and Perch on Crown Water Marked Security Paper and imperf-orated and had to be cut from the sheet by Scissors. In the following months it production started and were distributed to post offices and was available to the public in May first 1840 thus Rowland Hill become the Hero and Father of adhesive stamp.

Rowland Hill Credit. Rowland Hill Stamps .

Rowland Hill developed a uniform postage system in 1840. This is how the Postage Stamp was originated and destined to have a great future in the field of communication all over the world. In the year 1979 the world celebrated his death centenary and many countries issued commemorative stamps in his name.

The United States did not come into picture until 1847. By that time many countries released their own stamps. Among them were Brazil, Mauritius and the cantons (states) of Switzerland.

By 1860 almost every country adopted stamps as a method of paying postal charges.

If you are planning to sell from your collection by part or full or planning to add new additions to your collection here is a site to check in. Rowland Hill deal with buying and selling at realistic prices. Also read more about the ‘Father of adhesive Postage Stamp’ and other stamp trading in fine क

commonwealth stamps. Here is the link to their site: Rowland Hill Stamps .

Stamp collecting – an exciting hobby

Sports Events Depicted on Stamp s

Stamp the insignificant piece of paper brings some kind of energy and enthusiasm into the modern man’s mechanical life.

Stamp collecting is so exciting that there won’t be any dull or boring situation if you enter or involve in it. Stamps come in different designs, colors, shapes, themes and sizes. It will definitely keep one absorbing fully in it. Its educational and informative nature of this hobby will attract many to involve in it. Through the study of stamps one can obtain the knowledge of different countries and its people, their history geography, arts, customs and its flora and fauna. In short everything one wanted to know about a country can obtain through the collection and study of stamps.

A Page from Authors Collection.

Its unique feature of telling the story is not in the dull and it teaches us not in the dull and boring way of routine school text books but through the fascinating pictorial presentation. It tells everything about the world we live in. In the recent times the educational value of this interesting hobby has been widely accepted and many countries have adopted or prescribed this subject ‘philately’ as an academic curriculum. It not only gives knowledge but also promote international understanding and brotherhood.

A Page from Author’s Collection

One can select this hobby according to his choice or interest. It has got different wings and themes like, children on stamps, birds and animals on stamps, flowers on stamps, fruits and vegetables on stamps, paints and arts on stamps, national and international patriots on stamps and the list of subjects do not end here, what to say even nudes are depicted on stamps.

In a present stressful world stamps and it study or collection gives a soothing or relaxing experience. In a routine and mechanical way of life stamps plays an important role to bring the tense situation into a relaxed and refreshed situation. Philately like a miracle tonic refreshes the mind and heart of the individuals.

President Roosevelt in connection with this hobby

He used to carry his collection of stamps wherever he went and during the world War II time whenever he gets some spare time he involve in checking these stamps and it tremendously reduced his mental tension and maintained a balanced life in those tedious days.

There are a number of stories about the hidden treasures of stamp collection.

“Expect a Miracle” The eminent Indian Philatelist Jal Cooper ones said. Yes there is always a chance to pick up bargains if you have the necessary knowledge about stamps. Its really surprising to note that the costliest philatelic cover the Post office Mauritius over which realizedUS $ 3,00,000/= in 1968was addressed to the Bombay Auxiliary Bible Society was picked up from Mumbai’s famous Chor Bazar (A market place were goods sold on very lowest price–believed to be a place were stolen articles were transacted) for few rupees. Due to a minor mistake occurred on the stamps its price value increased tremendously.

More and more people involved in this hobby and non-availability of some rare stamps increased the collectors’ curiosity and that automatically increased the price value.

A One Penny1856 British Guiana stamp sold for $ 935,000 in 1980.People discovered that the mistakes on the stamps increase the value.In 1918 United States issued 100 24 cent stamps with airplane mistakenly printed upside down.




British Guiana Stamp the one cent stamp is the world’s costliest stamp of which only one copy is now available.Its origin is very interesting that an impatient postmaster who could not wait for the new set of stamps to arrive became the unplanned creation of the most costly postal stamp in the world.Today the same stamp score a price higher than the Kohinoor Diamond.

It all happened in 1856 when the postmaster E D Wright could not wait for the new set of stamps to arrive. The stamps printed by Britain’s Guiana exhausted the stock of 4 cents stamps and the postmaster could not wait for a longer period and he decided to print the stamp in the country, thus born a stamp with a freak history.

It’s interesting to note that an unexpected error in the printing of this stamp created history. Instead of printing the denomination as Four cents it printed as One cent. Most interesting thing is that this mistake went unnoticed for long seventeen years even by the postmaster himself.

A young boy was the first owner of this rare stamp. He found this stamp from one of the letters of his grand parents. That was in the year 1872 and he decided to sell the stamp for purchasing more stamps from other countries. He approached a local philatelist Mr. N R Mechinon and sold it in exchange of few lesser priced stamps.

The latest Economic Times reports says that this best-known of all unique stamps, the 1856 “British Guiana 1 cent Magenta,” has been locked away in a vault since 1980 when it was bought for nearly $1 million by John du Pont. The heir to the du Pont chemical fortune. The report further says he is currently serving a 13- to 30-year sentence for third degree murder case”

World’s ‘Rarest’ Stamp Sold for a Record Price

The Swedish ‘ Treskilling Yellow is considered- among the world’s most valuable objects pound for pound. Credit Telegraph. Photo: EPA

One of world’s rarest stamps, (The Swedish “Treskilling Yellow“) is going up for auction this weekend and could fetch a record-breaking price, the head of a Geneva auction house said.

The Swedish “

Treskilling Yellow” is believed to be the only surviving misprint of an 1855 three shilling stamp that was supposed to be green.It has fabled status among collectors and is considered among the world’s most valuable objects for its size.

This rare stamp was sold to a group of buyers for at least the 2.875 million Swiss francs (then about $2.3 million) price it set a record for in 1996, said auctioneer David Feldman.

This is believed to be the only surviving misprint of an 1855 three shilling stamp that was supposed to be green. It has fabled status among collectors and is considered one of the world’s most valuable objects for its size.

The auction house valued the stamp at euro1.5 million to euro2 million ($1.87 million to $2.5 million) before the sale, but actual sales prices can vary greatly depending on what the buyers feel such unique items are worth.”

Feldman told The Associated Press that Saturday’s auction “happened very quickly because the buyers clearly knew how much they were prepared to pay.” Reports Telegraph


Yet another variety of rare stamps are the “

Hawaii Missionaries”. Hawaii brought out these stamps in 2.5 and 13 cents in the year 1851. They were printed locally at Honolulu and were very primitive. Unfortunately after the printing were these stamps were stored got fire and destroyed. However few stamps had already been sold to the missionaries to post their letters to U S A. Consequently this set of stamps became rare and costly.

In the year 1935 on the occasion of King of England’s Silver Jubilee celebration a special stamp was being prepared. A sample sheet of the printed stamps were shown to George V , but he could not like the striking blue color and preferred a light blue thus the sheets were not sold to the public, few of which were remained and become rare and costly.


On July 1952 under the authority of Sir Bartley Frere the Commissioner of Scind (Province of Scindh—now in Modern West Pakistan) issued the first Indian and the Asian stamp. It was an imperforated un-gummed laid paper stamp named as Scinde Dawk Half Anna Stamp.

Scinde Dawk Half Anna Stamp The First Indian and Asian Stamp

Motivated by the ‘One Penny’ stamp introduced by Rowland Hill in Great Britain Sir Barite Frerre thought of making a single denomination stamp for the circulation in the Scind province. In consultation with the then postmaster Desrd Kofee prepared a round design with a Motif bearing the bale mark of the East Indian Company V.E. I.C with a circular writing of “SCINDE DISTRICT DAWK” below the writing the denomination ½ (half) Anna was marked. Since it was not authorized by the East India Company the stamps were withdrawn in October 1954

. Today there is only one unused specimen and a few used stamps exist.



This is the second Indian rarest stamp, a 4 Anna stamp with a faulty printing (the Queen Victoria’s head printed inverted). This was printed on October 1 1854 and only three stamps are remaining in the world and incidentally this is the first bi-colored stamp in the world and become one of the rarest and costly stamps in the world.


After the Scinde Dawks there was a general issue of stamps in India. The Half Anna Stamp with the design of a palm tree and lion was printed in 1853. This was printed in a limited quantity and never put into sale or for circulation due to shortage of machinery. This stamp is not known to be possessed by any stamp collector or dealer.


Another rare Indian stamp is the Mahatma Gandhi or Bapu series of Rs.10.00 Service Postage Stamp. This was specially printed of the use of the late Governor General Shri Rajagopalachari. Only hundred stamps were issued and today only a few specimens are available.


India also has the rare distinction of being the first country in the world to carry an official Air post. It was on February 1911 from Allahabad to Naomi flight by the French Pilot Monsieur “H. Piquet”. About 65,000 letters and post cards were flown from Allahabad to Naini

It is not only just the stamp that is important even a cancellation on an ordinary stamp can often increase its value ‘hundreds’ if not thousands of times.

The postal marking found in Indian mail is the Bishop Mark of 1775 and is considered as one of the outstanding rarities of India. The costliest item in the world relation of its weights is a stamp—classic stamps are partially a “Gold Standard” they not only retain their value but if required judiciously appreciate quite considerably in value. Stamps are proved safe investment, easily transportable and a hedge against inflation. Like any other area here also a specialist in stamp collecting with knowledge through vast reading and research can make considerable amount of money on stamps. The amount spent on stamps is worth better than throwing it away on some of our so-called amusements and gambling


Stamp collection is also the World’s biggest collecting hobby and on such is one of the safest fields of investments in the collecting world; more than a million people dabble in stamps in England. In India, also it has become a very popular hobby in recent years due to the holding of regional and national exhibitions and the prestige brought to the country by the performances of Indian philatelists at International Exhibitions.

Some may say that the prospect of this hobby is very bleak since the popularity of internet and other forms of electronic communications are in its full usage. But this argument is not true that the usage of stamps on mail is still prevalent that there are a variety of stamps released quite often and its flow is increasing every year. Now there a number of philatelists’ organizations which provides different services to stamp collectors around the world? Philatelists can display their products for sale, and purchase variety of stamps and other related materials through web portals. is one such philately web portal. Through their pages one can buy the philately materials and can sell and display their stamps and philately related materials. They provide other facilities like contact with other philatelists and philately clubs, stamp trade/stamp exchange etc. is yet another website were a philatelist can sell and buy stamps and other related material. One can join here by registering with their ids. and can even exchange stamps. Recently they launched an ad campaign on the facebook and other sites. Stamp collectors can become a fan in their fb pages and can have good interaction on these lines. Read more at their sites.

No doubt, with such latest facilities available now philately has a bright future.


(A Study Paper prepared by the author in the year 1985. This Knol is an updated form of the same with few additions).

Useful Computer Software For Stamp Collections

As we are living in the 21st Century and most people also have a computer, why not using some specialized software for stamp collections, here are some good software propositions:

Stamp Page Creator (Open Source [FREE])
Album EasyList from DMOZ

World Federation Of Stamp Collection Members

Today and Tomorrow…

The “

Fédération Internationale de Philatélie” (F.I.P.) has looked after stamp collectors and philatelists since 1926 – growing from a society of a handful European Philatelic Federations to a Federation with a network throughout the world with:

87 Regular Members (National Philatelic Federations)
3 Associated Members (Continental Federations)
Promotional Members (a new type of Membership for Postal Administrations)

Related links:

International Federation of StampCollectors and Philatelists


GM]: BTW: did you know that one president from it was fromLuxembourg(sorry it is my country [ 😉 ]) His name is JosWOLFF, RDP, honorary president now (2010)…

Philately Now is Stamp of Class and Money

A recent report in the Times of India says: “Philately is stamp of class and money. its an investment that survived the recession in 2008, and actually zoomed 39% that year, when all asset classes global stock markets, US property rates and even gold fell.

Considered to be “under-valued but a highly stable asset class, investing in rare stamps is catching the fancy of Asians, particularly Indian Asians, investment portfolio managers feel that with India’s growth story and robust asset classes, investing in rare stamps will be next big asset class for the well-healed.

The list of stamp buffs who hold “valuable collections, include Queen Elizabeth of England, French President Sarkozy, Russian tennis player Sharpova and billionaire fund manager Bill Gross, who runs the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. Over the years, it is expected to move on from just being under the realm of royal dynasties to high net worth individuals.

Queen Elizabeth Pic Credit.

Sarkosy GoogleImage


Bill Gross, Billionaire Fund Manger

For more information on this line please visit this link.

posted by Carlphi

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Source:World Book.

video credit toYouTube .
*Economic Times, Times of India, Telegraph, Associated Predd. * Bill Gross Picture. Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News