Portal:Philately

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The Philately Portal

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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

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A Postal code, also known in various countries as a post code, postcode, or ZIP code, is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.

Germany was the first country to introduce a postal code system, in 1941. The United Kingdom followed in 1959 and the United States in 1963. By February 2005, 117 of the 190 member countries of the Universal Postal Union had postal code systems. A few countries that do not have national systems include Ireland, Hong Kong and Panama.

Postal services have their own formats and placement rules for postal codes. In most English-speaking countries, the postal code forms the last item of the address, whereas in most continental European countries it precedes the name of the city or town. Most postal codes are numeric. The few independent nations use alphanumeric postal code systems, such as, Argentina, Canada and United Kingdom.

Before postal codes were devised large cities were often divided into postal zones or postal districts, usually numbered from 1 upwards within each city. The newer postal code systems often incorporate the old zone numbers, as with London postal district numbers, for example. Ireland still uses postal district numbers in Dublin.

Selected picture

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A crash cover is any type of cover, (including air accident cover, interrupted flight cover, wreck cover) meaning any piece of mail that has been recovered from a fixed-wing aircraft, airship or aeroplane crash, train wreck, shipwreck or other postal transportation accident during its journey from sender to recipient.

In many cases it was possible to recover some or even all of the mail being carried and the postal authorities typically apply a postal marking (cachet), label, or mimeograph that gets affixed to the cover explaining the delay and damage to the recipient, and possibly enclose the letter in an "ambulance cover" or "body bag" if it was badly damaged and forwarded to its intended destination.

Selected biography

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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.

The current Philately collaboration is Aerophilately.


Postage stamps of Ireland is a Cscr-featured.svg Featured article
British Library Philatelic Collections, Postal codes in Canada, Pony Express, and 2009 Royal Mail industrial disputes are Symbol support vote.svg Good articles

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

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The British Guiana 1c magenta is among the rarest of the world's postage stamps, issued in limited numbers in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1856. Only one specimen is now known to exist.

An expected delivery of stamps by ship did not arrive in 1856, so the local postmaster, E.T.E. Dalton, authorised a printer, Joseph Baum and William Dallas, of Georgetown, to print an emergency issue of three stamps. Dalton gave some specifications about the design, but the printer chose to add a ship image of his own design on the stamp series. The one copy known to exist is in used condition and has been cut into an octagonal shape. A signature, in accordance to Dalton's policy, can be seen on the left hand side. Although dirty and heavily postmarked on the upper left hand side, it is nonetheless regarded as priceless.

An unsubstantiated rumour developed in the 1920s that a second copy of the stamp had been discovered, and that the then owner of the stamp, Arthur Hind, quietly purchased this second copy and destroyed it.

Selected bibliography

Williams, Louis N., & Williams, Maurice (1990). Fundamentals of Philately {revised ed.). American Philatelic Society. ISBN 0-9335-8013-4. 

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

15 November 2014 Lost Continental
11 November 2014 Postmaster General for Scotland
22 September 2014 Galfridus Walpole
30 October 2013 Alexandria "Blue Boy" Postmaster's Provisional
29 October 2013 St. Louis Bears


Expanded articles

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

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