While the term Philately has been commonly intertwined with stamp collecting, the two are entirely different concepts. A person may be a stamp collector without being a philatelist and a philatelist may be that without being a stamp collector. The former is a study of postal history and stamps, and other related items, while being a stamp collector may not imply study or inspection of stamps at all.
Origin and History
Philately is a term first used in 1864 by Georges Herpin. The original term used for the hobby was the French word ‘philatelie’, but was adopted in the American language as Philately. The first practice of Philately was said to be the practice of common observation of the stamps based on its paper, printed design, colour, perforations, watermark, and other qualities of the stamp. The variations in these qualities are the focus of Philately, and knowing whether the differences are intentional or not leads to further inquiry and objective of the hobby. Experts in the field are also relied upon to quote the presence of forgery as much as they may be relied on for questions of stamps’ authenticity.
Types of Philately
There are different types of Philately. These types differ in the focus of study. The most common of which is the Traditional Philately, which focuses on the productions and identification of stamps. The design process, paper type, method of printing, overprints of the stamps and the method of separation is what is being looked into by Traditional Philatelists.
There are also the Thematics Philatelists, which studies those which are depicted on the stamps. Their themes are the focus of the study, and the story behind it. Aerophilately specializes on stamps used in airmail, while Postal Philatelists focus on postal cards, stamped envelopes, and letter sheets.
Other types of Philately includes the Cinderella philately, which studies objects that show similarity with stamps but are not stamps per se. Philatelic literature focuses on the documentations of other philatelic studies. Revenue philately, on the other hand, studies the stamps which are used to collect fees and taxes on objects such as legal documents, newspapers, and licenses.
Maximaphily studies Maximum Cards, or those picture post cards. They usually come with postage stamps on different themes.
There are many other types of Philately, but have not yet been recognized as a mainstream study.
Stamp collecting, on the other hand, is a hobby which involves the collection of postage stamps and other related objects. This is popular hobby throughout the world. In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million collects stamps. While stamp collecting holds a similarity with Philately, they are entirely different and only similar as regards their point of interest, which is the stamp.
People have different purposes in stamp collecting. Mostly, they treat this hobby as a source of fulfilment and enjoyment. Other collects this in line with their study of history, as stamps depict history too. There are keen stamp collectors though, that draws in much attention to the minute detail of their every collection. Some serious stamp collectors study philately to appreciate their stamp collections.
Stamp collectors sometimes earn a fortune for their collection. This is especially true to those who were fortunate to get their hands on limited edition and historical stamps. It is said that the older a postage stamp is, the greater its value becomes. Most of these stamp collectors do not accumulate stamps for profit, but for mere hobby.
History of Stamp Collecting
Stamp collecting has been initiated since the first time stamps were issued. The hobby originated in Europe to the United States and to many other parts of the world in the year 1860. The first issued stamp was the Penny Black. It was issued in 1940 by Britain. The stamp was a picture of Queen Victoria in her youth.
The earliest serious stamp collector is said to be Edward Gray. He started collecting in the year 1862, and since then has accumulated stamps even before the hobby became a rage.
As there are various types of Philately, stamp collectors are categorized based on their focus of collection too. There are collectors who specialize in Postage stamps, Topical Stamps collecting, Postal stationery, Federal Duck stamps, Sheets, First day covers, Maximum cards, Cinderella stamps, Postmarks, and Souvenir Pages.