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An introduction to postage stamp collecting

An Introduction to Postage Stamp Collecting

Stamps are used by millions of people daily yet few of us give them any thought. We take them for granted, seeing them as mere functional objects. It is true that they are functional objects but not only. Ask any stamp collector and he or she will tell you that a stamp is a lot more than that. In the case of used stamps, a lot of them tell a story and reflect the period and mood of the country in which they were issued.

Let us backtrack for a while and talk about the history of stamps and how they came about. It is commonly accepted that stamps were first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1840 with the penny black stamp. It was a revolution of sorts since it meant that the sender had to pay the postage fee and not the recipient like before. Shortly after the two pence blue stamp was issued. On thing to note is that the United Kingdom is to this day the only country whose name does not appear on its stamps.

As you know, stamp collecting is a very popular hobby throughout the world. Some people prefer to collect brand new stamps while others prefer to collect used stamps that actually served their purpose. Some of course do not discriminate and collect both. There are a lot of different types of stamps. Some stamps are issued for collecting rather than postal use. Let us have a quick look at the type of stamps available and their characteristics.

First is the definitive stamp. This is simply your regular stamp in any denomination that you can buy at the post office. These stamps often feature symbols of the country of issuance. They usually begin at the smallest unit of currency and can go up to fifty to a hundred times the usual postage rate. Collectors are looking to collect every denomination of a definitive series.

The commemorative stamp, like its name suggests, is a stamp issued to commemorate an important event, person or location. A few of these are usually issued each year, the first day of issues normally taking place where in the location associated with the person or event.
Pictorial stamps, also referred to as simply pictorials, are stamps depicting a representative landscape of the country of issuance.

Revenue stamps are stamps that were not intended for mail (although some stamps could be used both for revenue and postage) but for collecting taxes and fees. These stamps actually predate the postage stamps. Revenue stamps are issued by the finance ministry.

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