The term “philately,” dates back to the mid-1860s, and is the English version of the French term “philatélie,” the technical term for the study of stamps, postal history, and other related items. It is a combination of the Greek words “philos” (fond of) and “ateles” (tax-free). What is the connection between taxes and stamps? Today, the mailer pays the postage. But years ago, the addressee paid the postage in order to receive the letter.
One major difference between philatelists and stamp collectors is that many stamp collectors simply collect or buy highly-desirable stamps and don’t necessarily study them. Philatelists take pride in studying collections and stamps, but don’t actually collect them. In order to build a valuable collection, however, the collector must have a certain amount of knowledge of what makes a stamp desirable and thus, valuable. Whether collecting stamps or studying them, stamps occupy a prominent position in the world of hobbyists.
It’s fun! When you collect stamps, you’re in complete control. Your stamp time is your own – for relaxing, escaping the everyday routine, and making interesting discoveries. And stamp collecting always has something fun to offer, like interesting stories behind some stamps, investigating watermarks, secret marks, typos and other errors, perforations, and more.
Stamp collecting is affordable. The cost of a stamp depends on how long ago it was issued, how many are now in permanent collections, and how many actually survive today, plus, whether the stamp was used. It is possible to purchase a 130-year-old U.S. stamp – for just $1.25. Used stamps have a story all their own. Where have they been? What was the news they carried? A stamp even could have been used by a President, prominent scientist, or a famous entertainer!