The Land of the Free and Happy Philatelists

Philately, or the study of stamps, is a vast field of study that has captured the attention of many Americans over the years. This fascination with stamps and the history has led to a hobby related to philately, which is collecting stamps.

Usually, stamp collection begins with the acquisition of a first couple of stamps and will grow with the choice of a particular classification of stamps, where the collector will concentrate to put his efforts. The continued acquisition of the stamps for the collection will be attained from personal letters, purchase from the postal office, trading with fellow collectors, or from the stamp dealers.

It seems that a philatelic hobby is too difficult or obscure actually, it is not. The collection and study of stamps is not a complete novel idea; over 110 countries worldwide have a sort of society for philatelists.

In the United States of America, philatelists banded together in the year 1886 under a single umbrella of the American Philatelic Society (APS). More than a century now, the APS provides its members not only an avenue to meet fellow enthusiasts, but also various services and information programs to assist in the pursuit and enhancement of the collecting experience.

Over this huge span of time, the APS has been kept alive by donations, sale of its various publications, receipt of payment for its services, and receipt of its members? dues. In the country, there are more than 44, 000 philatelists formally part of the APS. Many others are new to the trade, or are yet to find their way to APS.

This huge number is proven by the fact that various states hold annual philatelic conventions for enthusiasts in the area to meet and convene. Another philatelic association in the United States known equally for its expertise is the Philatelic Foundation.

Various classifications and concentrations of collection are available. Some of them include postage stamps from other countries (particularly those of age), postage stationery (including air letter sheets, government-issued post cards), revenue stamps, or first day cover stamps.

However, one particular stamp category is unique to the United States of America (and its adjacent territories, including Canada). These are Federal Duck stamps, which are used for licenses for duck hunters. These were created with the primary goal to conserve ducks and their immediate environment.

This was evident when a well-known conservationist by the name of Ding Darling designed the first Federal Duck stamp, which was released in the year 1934. These stamps slowly became a tradition, with annual competitions participated by many wildlife artists. At the end of the day, the winner ends up having his or her design printed on the year?s Federal Duck stamp.

The U.S. government, through the Department of Interior and local state agencies, organize the sale of these Federal Duck stamps. Revenues from the sales of the stamps go to the acquisition of wetlands [home to these ducks] with the intention of protecting and preserving them.

First-day covers are the stamped envelopes cancelled on the same day the stamp is issued, which are increasingly becoming popular among the stamp collectors. The later designs of First-day covers bear the theme of a particular stamp?s issue. Well known philatelist George W. Linn keeping the first FDC, issued in the year of 1923 as the hard memorial stamp.

Today, cachet making is considered as an art, and is achieved by various methods. These methods include drawing directly on the envelope, lithography, block printing, and laser printing. Today, the U.S. produce huge volumes of cacheted stamps through the services of known cachet making companies like Artcraft, Colorano, and House of Farnam.

However, stamp collection in the United States was not always smooth. The value of U.S. stamp issued in the year of 1920s has significantly increased value. Due to this reason, many Americans have started to collect mint U.S. stamp issues in bulk, with hopes of re-selling them after few years with the aim for a higher price.

Whatever the case, the trend of philately and stamp collection in the United States may continue to grow over the years. Critics predicted a decrease in philately with the commencement of the Internet and email. However, the continued demand for stamps and frequency of change in the stamp design continually increase over the years, which bring much excitement and celebration to the world of philately.


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