Philately - The
King of Hobbies
by Chander M. Bhat
Postage stamps, though small
in size, have attracted collectors by their colour and design and their inherent
value of mementoes. Hobby is what is commonly known as Stamp Collecting and
Stamp Collector is known as Philately and Philatelist but word Philately covers
many more than merely collecting stamps.
Collecting has been called “the King of Hobbies and the Hobby of Kings”… a
reference to this fact that George V of Great Britain, Carol of Romania and
Farouk of Egypt were keen collectors. Other famous philatelists were President
Franklin D. Roosevelt and the actors Peter Cushing and Yul Brynner.
Collecting began immediately after world saw the first postage stamp in 1840
issued by Great Britain. An educator named Rowland Hill of England is
considered the Father of Philately. In 1837, he advocated pre-payment of
postage and uniform domestic rates by weight. He devised a prepaid envelope and
the adhesive postage stamp. The stamp picturing Queen Victoria was issued on May
1, 1840 and was in use from May 6, 1840.
first adhesive postage stamp was issued in India on 1 July 1852, the so-called
“Scinde Dawk” and the commissioner of Sind Province released the issue.
The bits of
coloured paper were a curiosity and some people retained used specimens. When
several countries began to issue stamps, the idea of exchanging stamps came into
existence and collecting became more interesting. Thus the hobby was born. In
1841, a lady advertised in a London newspaper for used stamps. She is
considered world’s first stamp collector. The interest spread rapidly. By 1850,
the hobby had taken root.
question arises that who is a stamp collector and who is a Philatelist.
Collecting stamps randomly irrespective of any theme or advance study of stamps
is a stamp collector whereas when a stamp collector wants more dimensions to
this hobby is known as Philatelist. A Philatelist will notice about any stamp
he acquires incorporates certain information in its design: its country of
origin and its face value. Philatelist pay attention to colour, watermarks, the
printing process and the type of paper the stamp is printed on.
Philately stretches stamp collectors into:
Type of stamps, colour,
separation, artist sketches
Covers, First Day Covers,
cancellations, postal history
Types of cancellations
Checking of perforations,
margins, and dyes.
Study of shades, gum
variations, errors, fakes
Collecting of postal
beginning, there was only one kind of stamps, prepaying the postage on letters.
Such stamps known as permanent or definitive stamps, but over the years many
other kinds of stamps have evolved which include: definitive design,
commemorative stamps, omnibus issues, special issues, joint issues, charity
stamps, airmail stamps and souvenir sheet. Whatever be field of specialization,
a genuine interest in the hobby, spare time, good contacts and willingness and
ability to spend some money are the pre-requisites of a good collector.
that there are some old stamps worth thousands of rupees many sounds incredible
to those outside the realm of philately. The world’s most expensive stamp is in
Britian issued in 1856. In 1970, the, rearest stamp of the world was purchased
by a bidder in New York auction at the shockingly high price of 280000 US
Dollors. Its price as per today price index comes to one crore and twenty lakhs
as per Indian currency. In November 1993, history was made when an anonymous
buer paid Rs. 13 crore for one of the philatelist’s acknowledgement treasures.
feudatory states (some with their own currencies) before independence set up or
continued local postal systems, which carried mail within the state. Certain
states signed a ‘convention’ with British India, which allowed them to
difference the stamps and postal stationary in India by an overprint bearing
their names. Faridkot and Jind had periods of both feudatory and convention
states. Stamps of the Republic of India replaced all surviving separate issues
on 1st April 1950, though convention stamps remained valid till 31st
Kashmir State post existed as early as 1820. This was carried by runners. Jammu
and Kashmir had both joint and separate stamps issued currently in 1866-77.
First stamp in Jammu and Kashmir was issued in March 1866. All stamps are
inscribed in native script only. Separate stamps were discontinued on
November1, 1884. Besides Jammu and Kashmir, Poonch had also its postal system
and had its separate stamps. The then king of Poonch issued first stamp in 1876.
Separate stamps of Poonch were discontinued in 1894.
maximum Philatelists collect the stamps of Indian states, which have been issued
separately prior to independence. At present there are three million collectors
in the United Kingdom, five million in Germany, 12 million in the USA, and
probably up to 100 million worldwide.
Philately has become a fully developed science and an art. But, it still wins
the hearts of people as a wonderful hobby, rather the king of hobbies. It is
certainly not an inherited capability. It is acquired by years of reading,
experience, which develops into a great hobby.