Philately as a Hobby

President Franklin D Roosevelt was a philatelist. He said, "The best thing about stamp collecting is that the enthusiasm which it arouses in youth increases as the years pass. It dispels boredom, enlarges our vision, broadens our knowledge, and in innumerable ways enriches our life. I also commend stamp collecting because I really believe it makes one a better citizen."
Z Grill

Stamp collection is a hobby of the rich. It is very expensive and time-consuming. The rare stamps are difficult to collect and have very high monetary values – a few of them worth millions of dollars. For example, Z Grill is the most rare and valuable US stamp last sold for $2.97 million USD. Only two known copies of the Z Grill Stamps are known to exist. One is owned by the New York Public Library while the other copy is the in the hands of financier Bill Gross (who traded for it for a block of the 4 Inverted Jenny block worth $2.97 million).

In India the great Mughal Badshahs (kings) organized postal system in the form of couriers on foot or horse. This was replaced by the present day system introduced in 1837 by Sir Rowland Hill – considered the father of Philately. He introduced the system of pre-payment of postage as the earlier system of payment by the addressees often led to loss of revenue. As the receiver most often refused to accept delivery on payment. Penny Black was the world's first prepaid adhesive stamp, with the image of Queen Victoria sketched by Henry Cole.

Philippe Le Remotiere Won Ferrari was a very rich Austrian-Italian noble man born in 1848. He collected stamps since the age of ten. He used to buy forty thousand dollars worth of stamps every month. He allotted two rooms in his large mansion in Paris. After his death in 1917 his collection went to Berlin Museum. The French Government seized the collection and it was sold for two million dollars in 1925.Ferrari’s collection included unique British Guiana one-cent Magneta.

The history of a country is reflected in the stamps issued by it. A country’s achievements in various fields, its fauna and flora, minerals, almost everything are reflected in the stamps. Stamps are issued to commemorate various important events. Important personalities are given perpetual recognition by issuing stamps.

Stamps are issued in different sizes and shapes – Square, rectangular, triangular, round, rhombic, trapezoidal, in the shape of the country of origin, in the shape of fruits etc.

Most stamp collectors arrange their collections thematically like architecture, armed forces, historic monuments, sports, Olympic games, automobiles, aircrafts, ships, personalities, endangered species, and so on.

Here are some tips for the young and inexperienced stamp collectors:

  1. It is better to buy stamps from standard dealers.
  2. Do not buy stamps without knowing about them from reliable sources like books, stamp catalogues or known dealer..
  3. The stamps should be exposed to air and light from time to time.
  4. Keep the stamps away from adhesives, water, sharp tools etc, which are likely to damage the stamps.
  5. Use blotters to keep the mint stamps free from moisture.
  6. Use caution while handling stamps to avoid damaging them.
  7. To remove used stamps from envelopes tear the envelope without damaging the stamps. To clean used stamps soak the stamps in water for half an hour and then slowly peel the stamps off the envelope. Dry them on a blotter or newspaper by spreading the stamps on a newspaper or a glass pane with the gummed side facing up and then keep them under weight (books or albums) for some time.
  8. Stamps are valuable only when they are not damaged and are in good condition.
  9. Use good quality material for storing stamps
  10. Be in constant touch with your collection.
  11. Do not use hinges on mint stamps. Hinged stamps have lower values.

Here is a short list of some rare and valuable stamps:

  Name Date Issuer Value
1 Penny Black May 1, 1840 United Kingdom Used: $240
Unused: $3000
2 Basel Dove July 1, 1845 Switzerland CHF 18,000
3 Post Office Mauritius Sept 20, 1847 United Kingdom 1 million pounds sterling
4 Perot Provisional 1848 Bermuda $105,000 USD
5 Inverted Head 4 Annas Oct 13, 1854 India ??
6 Z grill 1868 USA $ 2.97 million USD

Shri S.R. Das is a philatelist himself. He started collecting stamps as a child and philately became a full time hobby after his retirement from the Indian Navy where he worked for more than 25 years. He has more than 20,000 stamps from all over the world in his collection.

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