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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In the United States a railway post office, commonly abbreviated as RPO, was a railroad car that was normally operated in passenger service as a means to sort mail en route, in order to speed delivery. The RPO was staffed by highly trained Railway Mail Service postal clerks, and was off-limits to the passengers on the train. In the UK, the equivalent term was Travelling Post Office (TPO). Many American railroads earned substantial revenues through contracts with the Post Office to carry mail aboard high-speed passenger trains.

The world's first official carriage of mail by rail was by the United Kingdom's General Post Office in November 1830 on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Sorting of mail en route first occurred in the United Kingdom with the introduction of the Travelling Post Office in 1838.

In the United States, some references suggest that the first shipment of mail carried on a train occurred in 1831 on the South Carolina Rail Road. Other sources state that the first official contract to regularly carry mail on a train was made with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in either 1834 or 1835. The United States Congress officially designated all railroads as official postal routes on July 7, 1838.

Similar services were introduced on Canadian railroads in 1859. In the United States it was introduced on July 28, 1862 using converted baggage cars on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad (which also delivered the first letter to the Pony Express).

Selected picture

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A postal stationery envelope used from London to Düsseldorf in 1900, with additional postage stamp perfinned "C & S" identifying the user as "Churchill & Sim" per the seal on the reverse shown on inset. A perfin, the contraction of 'PERForated INitials', is a pattern of tiny holes punched through a postage stamp. Organizations used perforating machines to make perforations forming letters or designs in postage stamps with the purpose of preventing pilferage. It is often difficult to identify the originating uses of individual perfins because there are often no identifying features but when a perfin is affixed to a cover that has some user identifying feature, like a company name, address, or even a postmark or cancellation of a known town where the company had offices, this enhances the perfin.

Selected biography

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Edward Benjamin Evans, RPS (3 November 1846 – 21 March 1922), a British army officer also known as "Major Evans", was a distinguished philatelist, stamp collector, and philatelic journalist. His philatelic specialization included Mauritius, the Confederate States of America, the Mulready envelopes, and the Indian feudatory states.

His Mauritius collection started after he was posted there in 1876. Evans assembled an extraordinary collection that included a famous example of the One Penny Red "Post Office" Mauritius and several unused Two Pence "Post Paid" in indigo and dark blue. He published many articles on the stamps of the Confederate States in the Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal, which he edited for 23 years. His Mulready envelope collection was purchased by King George V and now resides in the Royal Collection. Read more...

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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