Introduction To Stamp Collecting - Part 1

Stamp collecting - Philately - is a Hobby. It is one of the great cultural pursuits of our nation and of several other nations, notably England, France, Germany, and Switzerland, of importance in the order named. It is of lesser importance but nevertheless with substantial numbers of followers in the Benelux nations, Italy, Spain and generally throughout Europe. In Asia, China and Japan have long been important centers of Stamp collecting. The Straits Settlements, Thailand, Indonesia, India, all have important philatelic centers and in such remote places as Afghanistan and Ethiopia one will find stamp dealers. Many nations officially take cognizance of the hobby and newly born nations have embraced the hobby as an important means of developing the "person to person" efforts to have all peoples of the world understand and live at peace with each other.

Israel, one of the newest of the world's nations, has vigorously taken up the hobby on a large scale and has even successfully completed an international philatelic exhibition of considerable consequence. With each passing year new millions become avid stamp collectors, indeed, the hobby is a virile and dynamic force for good that is constantly growing throughout the civilized world. So far as anyone can determine the "fad," so-called at the period, began in England shortly after the world's first postage stamp, the famous British "Penny Black" bearing a portrait of Queen Victoria, made its debut in the world. Historians trace the origin of the hobby to an advertisement which appeared in a London newspaper to the effect that a young lady, desirous of accumulating enough of the new postage stamps with which to paper her room would be grateful for any such that might be sent to her.

Still other historians claim that this original advertisement of a person desiring to "collect" postage stamps was actually a hoax perpetrated by the founder of the earliest and one of the greatest philatelic firms of the world, Stanley Gibbons, Ltd. By this means, it is said, the firm supplied itself with a large stock of stamps. Whether this first advertisement was a hoax as suggested or was indeed the actual desire of a bona fide young lady, the fact that there was such an advertisement and that this was the first public expression of someone desiring to collect postage stamps seems rather well established. From these humble beginnings the great hobby made its start. Being of British origin it may reasonably be expected that it would find many followers throughout the British Empire, and such is the fact. Wherever British subjects reside, there you will find stamp collectors in numbers, and for many years London was the great market place where one could buy or sell stamps. The outbreak of World War II, however, with all of its restrictions on the exchange of currency between nations, and particularly with Great Britain itself finding it necessary to restrict, even forbid, the exporting of her monetary wealth, saw the center of the stamp world shift from London to New York, where it is located to this very day.