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The Penny Black

Image Source: flickr/kevinzim

Image Source: flickr/kevinzim



History of Stamp Collecting

Stamp collecting traces its beginnings from the time the first postage stamp was issued by Britain in 1840.  It showed the profile of a young Queen Victoria and is known in the philatelic world as the Penny Black.  Since it did not come with perforations like the present stamps, each had to be cut manually by scissors in order to be used. Used samples of this stamp are quite common but the unused ones are quite scarce and therefore command high value.

Stamps were introduced by Great Britain in relation to the proposed standardization of postal rates in the country.  The postage provided a means for prepaying mail delivery which was becoming a problem at that time.  From the success of the use of the first adhesive postage stamp issued in May 6, 1840, more than 70 countries were using the prepaid postage stamp system by 1860.  It was during this time that the so-called “stamp madness” occurred as thousands of people became avid collectors of stamps.  The hobby of collecting stamps became very popular.

It was not surprising therefore that businesses that catered to stamp collectors began to flourish.  Stanley Gibbons, Ltd. which is located in London, England holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously existing business involved in the sale of postage stamps and related supplies. The first stamp albums came out in the early 1880s.

Stamp Collecting and Philately

It has to be noted that stamp collecting and philately is not one and the same.  While the former is about collecting the stamps, philately is concerned about the study of such stamps.  It is true that most collections start out based on fun and relaxation but there will be a need at some point to organize them as a collection gets bigger.  Collectors will soon find the need to study what they have to enable them to create comprehensive and orderly presentations of their prized stamps.

The young, composed of children and teenagers were the original known stamp collectors.  The interest began as they saw a fun way of collecting through their parents’ mail.  This is the reason why stamp collecting was dismissed before by adults as a childish endeavor.  Eventually, adults recognized the unlimited opportunity presented by collecting and studying stamps.  Today, there are many collections of considerable value.  The personal collection of Philipp Von Ferrary is considered the most complete ever formed in the entire history of stamp collecting.  It was just unfortunate that the collection had to be broken up and sold by the French government as part of payment of war time reparations since Ferrary was Austrian.  Today, the hobby of collecting stamps continue to produce exceptional collections.

My Say

Stamp collecting is a wonderful world to discover. It is not for everyone but for those who have discovered it, unlimited opportunities for personal entertainment and satisfaction can be had. For some, stamp collecting has become a lucrative business endeavor.

singapore post, black penny

The Penny Black as featured during the “Art of Corporate Giving” Event sponsored by Singapore Post Ltd. at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, July 20, 2012


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A freelance researcher-writer who has continuously been in such field for more than 10 years. Know more about her here.

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