Many people have different interests and hobbies. Philately remains an interesting hobby for those who understand its aesthetics. Stamp collecting has a long history that has attracted the attention of famous and ordinary individuals for as long as it has existed. The origins of philately have been found to reside in the observation that, in a collection of stamps that are apparently alike, closer assessment may reveal differences in the print design, watermark, color, paper, perforations and other aspects of the stamp. The variations in the postal stamps may or may not have been intentional when being produced, which directs further inquest as to how the inherent changes could have occurred and why. In this regard, philately can be defined as a field of study involving stamps, postal history and other material related to stamps and post (Scaglia 27). The aim of philately and philatelic collections is to unearth the complexities that lie within stamps, and it is necessary for the requirements and process for this hobby be further examined. The purpose of this paper is to show how philatelists go about the study of stamps and how it has been organized.
Traditional philately looks at various technical aspects of how stamps have been produced and the identification processes of these stamps (Luff 37). In looking at the production aspects of a stamp, the philatelist essentially tries to determine the type of materials that have been used to produce it, for example, looking at the type of paper used, the method of printing, the type of gum used, the method used in separation and any security measures used in the paper (Scaglia 51). Looking at all these elements in a stamp helps the philatelist understand the nature of the stamp and is able to identify whether the stamp is a forgery or an authentic piece. In the same breath, philatelists hope to find rare stamps that could be extremely valuable. Other categories in philately include studies in aero philately where a philatelist mines airmail stamps, postal history, postal stationery, revenue philately, Cinderella philately, Maximaphily and philatelic literature (Luff 48). A philatelist can also examine a collection of stamps by way of categorizing the stamps into different classes. For example, thematic philately is a situation where stamps have been categorized into the depictions on the stamps. Thematic philately is especially intriguing because a philatelist collects an array of stamps with common and uncommon stamp depictions like birds, presidents, ships, monarchs, insects, aircrafts, among other images (Scaglia 29). Another interesting bit about thematic philately is the fact that it examines the alterations and mistakes that have taken place on the stamp images, and gives the origins of why certain images have been adopted onto stamps.
Another important aspect of philately is observation, and it is necessary for a philatelist to use a number of tools to ensure that the study of the tools is more than satisfactory. For example, the philatelist uses stamp tongs to ensure that the stamps are being handled with care, a very strong magnifying glass and a perforation gauge that is used to measure the perforation levels of the stamp. In studying stamps, the identification of a watermark is very vital, and one can hold up the stamp to the light so that they can identify one. Alternatively, one can use a watermark fluid to wet the stamp so that the watermark can be revealed (Scaglia 54). It is also common to find a philatelist owning a stamp catalogue that contains the types of postage stamps and their descriptions including the prices (Luff 33). A philatelist does not need to have a stamp on hand to examine and study it. It is possible for them to visit a stamp museum and study the stamp while on display. A stamp catalogue can also be used to study stamps. Other tools include the use of stockbooks used to store stamps and stamp hinges that are used to keep stamps in stamp albums.
Philately has become a major hobby for many people across the world and philatelic organizations numbering in the thousands have come up in many countries to support philatelic interests (Scaglia 65). Those who share a passion for philately find others like them within these organizations, in which they can exchange stamps, sell stamps and enjoy discussions on the issues surrounding collections of stamps. In the United States, for example, the number of stamp collectors is believed to number 20 million thus the need to form clubs and organizations (American Philatelic Association). In the United Arab Emirates, the Emirates Philatelic Association is an organization that supports philatelic interests and helps its 325 members in the area to participate in philatelic events, in the country and outside the country (Emirates Philatelic Association). The Emirates Philatelic Association has been in existence from 1996 and has managed to make a mark in the philatelic world by having individuals with collections able to compete on an international level. In the year 2012 from the 20th to 25th of November, the EPA hosted an International Stamp exhibition in Sharja (Emirates Philatelic Association). The event featured many categories including Traditional, Postal Stationery, Thematic, and Postal History amongst other categories. The EPA is a testament of the milestones made by the philatelic community in Asia and the world.
In conclusion, philately is a way of life with many people around the world enjoying the aesthetics associated with it. Philately can be a hobby and at the same time be a means of earning income by selling stamps that may be rare and valuable. The techniques involved in the study of stamps make philately a fascinating hobby since it offers individuals the ability to investigate origin, type and even how the stamps were made. In this respect, philatelic inspection has given us insights into the history of postal organizations and presented the artistic aspects of stamps that many would have otherwise ignored. Overtime, the hobby has gained popularity in different parts of the world setting precedence for the formation of philatelic associations in many parts of the world.
The paper starts out with a brief description of what philately is all about and by giving a brief statement over the origins of stamp collecting as a hobby. The paper also defines philately and gives the main aim behind conducting studies of postal stamps. It also gives a description of what philately entails in terms of its motivations and the techniques used in the study of stamps and the tools used in this study. Since the collecting stamps is considered a hobby by many individuals, the paper looks at how various philately enthusiasts have organized themselves into associations and clubs to pursue philately interests.
The idea of philately is an important concept since it offers people a chance to be acquainted with the history of the world’s postal services. Philately is also an avenue through which people interested in stamps can study the artistic works portrayed on stamps that in other circumstances would go unnoticed.
The field of philately continues to grow as many people continue to appreciate its value. This hobby promises not to disappoint because it is exciting and interesting. More people will continue to get involved in the trade, in the future.
Emirates Philatelic Association. Brief History- Emirates Philatelic Association. Emirates Philatelic Association, 2012. Web. 09 January 2013.
Luff, John N. What Philately Teaches. S.l.: General Books, 2010. Print.
Scaglia, B. The Philatelic Focus: A Study of Stamps and Postal History (Philately). Bucharest: BiblioBazaar, 2011. Print.
The American Philatelic Society. A Hobby For Everyone. America’s Stamp club. Web. 09 January 2013.
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