Stamp Collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and things related to postage stamps. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies.
Philately is a more formal term for stamp collecting. In spite of its global popularity, it remains unprofitable for many individuals, giving rise to the phrase, "Philately will get you nowhere". (Who says stamp collectors have no sense of humor?..)
A stamp collector is known as a Philatelist.
Stamp collectors collect:
- postage stamps
- Postal Stationary - includes government issued post cards, aerograms, air letter sheets, etc
- revenue stamps
- Postage Due stamps
- Duck stamps (mainly U.S. with some other countries such as Canada)
- Philatelic literature
- Government issued material associated with postage stamps (e.g., envelopes)
- stamp like labels
- non-stamp items picturing actual postage stamps
- non-stamp items picturing stamp like labels
- counterfeit/forged postage stamps
History of stamp collecting:
It wasn't until the 1920s that publicity about valuable stamps encouraged a large increase in the number of stamp collectors. This rapid increase in postage stamp values was largely due to very few of the older stamps being saved in good condition. Especially difficult to find were pairs, triples, and large blocks of older stamps.
During the 1930s many people stockpiled mint stamps with the hopes of selling them for a large profit in a few years time. This never materialized. Even today, more than 60 years later, one can find 1930s stamps in mint condition for close to face value.
Most postage stamps issued since the 1930s are easy to obtain and have minimal value. Some high face value stamps, such as the $2.60 United States Graf Zeppelin issued in 1930, are worth substantial amounts of money. Other stamps issued since 1930 that are usually worth something are, souviner sheet from popular countries, hard to find plate number coils, and errors in printing.