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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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Cscr-featured.svg The postage stamps of Ireland are issued by the postal operator of the independent Irish state. Ireland was part of the UK when the world's first postage stamps were issued in 1840. These stamps, and all subsequent British issues, were used in Ireland until the new Irish Government assumed power in 1922. On 17 February 1922 the existing British stamps were overprinted with Irish text for use as definitives until Irish designs were available. Rgular definitive were produced by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and issued on 6 December 1922; the first stamp was a 2d value, depicting a map of Ireland (including Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom).

Since then nine series of definitives have been issued while commemorative stamps did not appear until 1929. Oifig an Phoist, the Irish Post Office, issued all Irish stamps up to 1984 when the Department of Posts and Telegraphs was divided into two semi-state organisations; An Post took over the responsibility for all Irish postal services including the issuing of postage stamps.

Forerunners, essays, miniature sheets, booklet, coil, airmail stamps, postage dues and postal stationery are some of the Irish philatelic items known and collectable.

Selected image

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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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Benjamin Kurtz Miller (1857-1928) was a Milwaukee attorney who donated the first complete collection of U.S. stamps ever assembled to the New York Public Library in 1925. Great rarities and philatelic items in the Benjamin Miller Collection are the One-Cent Z Grill (two copies known), the rarest of all U.S. stamps.

Miller started late in life at the age of 61 when he bought one of the famous Inverted Jenny stamps in 1918. By the early 1920s, Miller was on the way to his ultimate achievement: collecting one of every U.S. postage stamp in the Scott catalogue of his day. He collected many varieties such as, color shades, frauds and forgeries, fresh unused stamps, and varied cancellations.

The collection was displayed at the library for more than 50 years. However it was locked away after a theft of some items in 1977. Even though a bulk of the collection was recovered it did not come back on display until recently; some of the collection was at the National Postal Museum in 2006 and 2007.

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 "Treskilling" Yellow, or 3 skilling banco error of color, is a postage stamp of Sweden, and as of 2004 the most valuable stamp in the world. To date no other example has been found, so is most likely the only one in existence.

The 3-skilling banco value of the first postage stamps of Sweden, issued in 1855, was normally printed in a blue-green color, while the 8-skilling was printed in a yellowish orange shade. In 1886, a young collector named Georg Wilhelm Baeckman was going through covers in his grandmother's attic, and came across one with a 3-skilling stamp printed in the yellowish orange shade of the 8-skilling.

Each time it has been sold it has set world records. In 1984 the stamp made headlines when it was sold by David Feldman for 977,500 Swiss francs. A 1990 sale realised over one million US dollars and in 1996 it sold again for 2,500,000 Swiss francs.

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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