Stamp Collecting is one of the world’s most popular hobbies, with an estimated 60 million collectors around the world. Our postal system can be dated back centuries to the reign of Henry I who appointed messengers to carry government letters. Henry VIII established the Royal Mail in 1516 and the first postage stamp, the Penny Black was launched over 175 years ago and pictures a young Queen Victoria.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when the hobby started as people have always shown appreciation for collecting these historical artefacts. However, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the hobby of collecting stamps surged in popularity. This was a time when there was a lot of new stamp collections being launched into the market and there was a marked increase in young collectors buying new issues rather than investing in the old.
Philately is a universal hobby, suitable for people of all ages, from children to grandparents, and with over one million different stamps to collect, it is safe to presume that you will never run out of things to do. Many collectors will focus on an era or topic that really inspires them and will drive their collections based on this. This can include pieces that mark anniversaries or occasions – for instance the launch of new material surrounding the Queen’s Birthday.
Collectors are also passionate about the historical finds in the world of stamps and will focus on key times or dates for their collections. For instance, we have just celebrated the 175th Anniversary of the Penny Red, the stamp that replaced the Penny Black, which was taken out of circulation due to the potential of fraudulent reuse. Prior to the Penny Red’s launch the Rainbow Colour Trials were conducted to find the ideal colour for the stamp. The Penny Red was in circulation for around 40 years and the first stamp was launched on 10th February 1841.
Edward Klempka, a collector and retired businessman has been collecting stamps for over 40 years. He is passionate about the hobby and enjoys finding new pieces for his collection as well as studying the eras that he collects in to find out more.
“A philatelist would spot how the stamp is printed, the type of paper it is printed on, the watermark, the colour of the ink and so on. You have to know what you’re doing. The ordinary person wouldn’t see a difference. This skill is learnt and built on over time, but once you understand what you are looking for and find something unusual this is when things becoming exciting”.
Stamp collectors are driven by a passion for the hobby. In the UK it is a close network of people that come together to help drive that passion. The Philatelic Traders’ Society LTD (PTS) is a group of philatelic traders who act for the greater good of the hobby. The PTS includes companies from Apex, Spink, Stanley Gibbons to Royal Mail and Mark Bloxham Stamps Ltd. They also host a bi -annual event called Stampex.
Stampex, sponsored by Stanley Gibbons, is the UK’s largest philatelic show, exhibiting a masterful presentation of collected stamps from philatelic dealers and specialists. The Spring 2017 show will return to The Business Design Centre (BDC) in Islington from 15th-18th February.
Stampex provides a unique opportunity to collectors and stamp enthusiasts of all ages to view rare collections on display. This year the exhibition’s theme is Roger Hargreaves Mr Men and Little Miss characters. Attendees will be able to purchase limited edition Mr Men and Little Miss Smilers sheets as well as securing a complimentary character postcard. As the exhibition falls during half term, this will be a fantastic day out for families, enabling them to embark on their new collecting adventure together.
DATES/TIMES: 15th – 18th February 2017 (Half-Term)
Wednesday 15th February 11.00 to 7pm
Thursday 16th February 10.00 to 6pm
Friday 17th February 10.00 to 6pm
Saturday 18th February 10.00 to 5pm
Business Design Centre (BDC), 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH London
Nearest Tube: Angel-Islington (Northern Line)
FOR MORE INFO BY THE PTS: www.thepts.net
Top tips for starting out in collecting:
- Make friends with the dealers, they are a friendly bunch and can give you sound tips and advice. Head to a show or exhibition, for instance Stampex; traders always welcome questions and offer tips and advice as do exhibitors.
- Pick up a stamp magazine or talk to friend. If you are investing think about how much you want to invest and what you want to achieve. If it’s for a hobby then select what interests you, do some research, start out small and grow your library slowly and steadily – have fun.
- When you are buying – try and buy pieces that are in the very best condition and don’t forget to ask how to store you stamps to retain their value.