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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Postal history is the study of postal systems and how they operate and, or, the collecting of covers and associated material illustrating historical episodes of postal systems. The term is attributed to Robson Lowe, a professional philatelist, stamp dealer and stamp auctioneer, who made the first organised study of the subject in the 1930s and described philatelists as "students of science", but postal historians as "students of humanity".

Postal history has become a philatelic collecting speciality in its own right. While philately is concerned with the study of the stamps per se, postal history can include the study of postal rates, postal policy, postal administration, political effects on postal systems, postal surveillance and the consequences of politics, business, and culture on postal systems; basically anything to do with the function of the collection, transportation and delivery of mail. Areas of special interest include disrupted or transitional periods, such as wars and military occupations, and mail to remote areas.

In studying or collecting any postal history subject some overlap is inevitable because it is impossible to separate the different areas that affect the mail from one another. Regional studies like countries of origin, native districts, cities, towns or villages, places associated with family roots, or workplaces, can comprise geographical based postal history studies. In the past collectors usually based their studies on "mail from" but "mail to" and "mail through" a place expand the postal service story because outgoing mail mainly shows marking associated with the areas of study while incoming mail tells a much broader story and are now more likely to be included. Transportation based studies can include, Aerophilately, Balloon mail, Maritime mail, Rocket mail, while subject based studies can include Express mail, Marcophily, Military mail, Postal censorship, Pre-adhesive mail and Registered mail.

Selected picture

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This is a very scarce use of the world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black, used on first day of valid use, May 6, 1840, tied by red Maltese Cross cancellation on folded cover to Warwickshire, brown "C MY-6 1840" first day datestamp on backflap verifies date of use. This was sold as lot 1018 at Robert Siegal's 2006 Rarities of the World auction for $45,000.

Selected biography

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Heinrich von Stephan (1831–1897) was a general post director for the German Empire who reorganized the German postal service. He was integral in the founding of the Universal Postal Union in 1874, and in 1877 introduced the telephone to Germany.

His career began in the Prussian post in 1849 and in 1866 he was in charge of federalizing the postal service that had been run by the Thurn und Taxis family. He was named Postmaster General of the German Empire in 1876, the Undersecretary of State in charge of the post office in 1880, and the Minister of Postal Services for Germany in 1895.

Early on he worked to establish a uniform postage rate throughout Germany. His general goal of standardization and internationalization is evident in his work to combine the postal service with the telegraph service in Germany, and in his efforts to organize the International Postal Conference in Bern in 1874, in which the Universal Postal Union was established. He introduced the postcard to Germany in 1870; the postcard came into widespread use in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War of as a method of communication between units in the field.

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.


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 Penny Black was the world's first official adhesive postage stamp, issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on May 1, 1840, for use from May 6.

The idea of an adhesive stamp to indicate prepayment of postage was part of Rowland Hill's 1837 proposal to reform the British postal system. A companion idea which Hill disclosed on February 13, 1837 at a government inquiry was that of a separate sheet which folded to form an enclosure or envelope for carrying letters. At that time postage was charged by the sheet and distance involved and the inquiry Hill noted that the stamp idea might obviate the envelope.

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

3 September 2016 Post Office Act 1908

Expanded articles

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

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