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Philately is the study of revenue or postage stamps. This includes the design, production, and uses of stamps after they are issued. A postage stamp is evidence of pre-paying a fee for postal services. Postal history is the study of postal systems of the past. It includes the study of rates charged, routes followed, and special handling of letters.

Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects, such as covers (envelopes, postcards or parcels with stamps affixed). It is one of the world's most popular hobbies, with estimates of the number of collectors ranging up to 20 million in the United States alone.

Selected article

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A pillar box is a free-standing post box where mail is deposited to be collected by the Royal Mail and forwarded to the addressee. Pillar boxes have been used since 1852, just 12 years after the introduction of the first adhesive postage stamps and uniform penny post. According to the Letter Box Study Group, there are more than 150 recognised designs and varieties of pillar boxes and wall boxes, not all of which have known surviving examples. Royal Mail estimates there are over 100,000 post boxes in the United Kingdom.

Most traditional British Pillar boxes produced after 1905 are made of cast iron and are cylindrical in shape, though other shapes have been used; the hexagonal Penfolds, rectangular boxes, and an oval shape used mainly for the large "double aperture" boxes seen in large cities, such as, London and Dublin. In recent years boxes manufactured in glass-fibre or ABS plastic have been produced.

The advent of the wayside post box can be traced to Sir Rowland Hill and his Surveyor for the Western District, the noted novelist, Anthony Trollope who was sent to solve the problem of collecting the mails in the Channel Islands caused by the irregular sailing times of the Royal Mail packet boats due to weather and tides. Trollope arrived in Jersey in early 1852 and his recommendation was to employ a “letter-receiving pillar” he may have seen in Paris.

Selected picture

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A magnifying glass is a convex lens which is used to produce a magnified image of an object. The lens is usually mounted in a frame with a handle though other designs are produced. A magnifying glass works by creating a magnified virtual image of an object behind the lens. Stamp collectors frequently use magnifying glasses to inspect their stamps. This photograph shows the magnified image of the Deutsche Post 1 Reichsmark stamp issued on May 12 1946.

Selected biography

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Sir Rowland Hill (1795–1879) was a British teacher and pamphleteer who popularised the concept of penny postage at a rate of a penny per half ounce, without regard to distance. He is usually credited in the UK with originating the basic concepts of the modern postal service.

Hill published his famous pamphlet Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability in 1837 in which he called for postage to be prepaid by the sender. Hitherto postage had been paid by the recipient. He suggested the prepayment be proven by prepaid letter sheets or adhesive stamps.

In 1840 his proposals led to the introduction of the world's first postage stamp; the Penny Black.

Things you can do

There is a discussion about getting more people involved in Philately on Wikipedia. Join the discussion and share your thoughts here.

WikiProject Philately organizes the development of articles relating to philately. The collaboration focuses on one article at a time until they can proudly put that article up as a featured article candidate. This will last until they have run through a pool of "featurable" articles, then they will use a time-based system.

Currently there is one philatelic featured article, if you can help with another candidate, please do so.

For those who want to skip ahead to the smaller articles, the WikiProject also maintains a list of articles in need of improvement or that need to be started. There are also many red inked topics that need to be started on the list of philatelic topics page.

Postage stamps of Ireland is a Cscr-featured.svg Featured article
British Library Philatelic Collections, Postal codes in Canada, Pony Express, and 2009 Royal Mail industrial disputes are Symbol support vote.svg Good articles

Did you know...

... that the first Penny Post was established in London in 1680 by William Dockwra nearly 200 years before the better known Uniform Penny Post that was part of the postal reforms of 1839 and 1840 in Great Britain.

... that Czesław Słania (1921-2005) is the most prolific stamp engraver, with more than 1,000 post stamps for 28 postal administrations?

... that a forerunner is a postage stamp used during the time period before a region or territory issues stamps of its own?

... that the Royal Philatelic Society is the oldest philatelic society in the world, founded in London in 1869?

... that Marcophily is the specialised study and collection of postmarks, cancellations and postal markings applied by hand or machine on mail?

... that throughout U.S. history, different types of mail bags have been called mail pouch, mail sack, mail satchel, catcher pouch, mochila saddle mailbag, and portmanteau depending on form, function, place and time?

... that Non-denominated postage are postage stamps that do not show a monetary value on the face?

... that the Daguin machine was a cancelling machine first used in post offices in Paris in 1884?

... that the first airmail of the United States was a personal letter from George Washington carried on an aerial balloon flight from Philadelphia by Jean Pierre Blanchard?

Stamp of the month

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Chalon heads, were a series of postage stamps issued by many British colonies, inspired by a portrait of Queen Victoria. The head came from a painting by Alfred Edward Chalon (1870-1860), drawn for the first public appearance of Victoria as Queen on the occasion of her speech at the House of Lords in July 1837. Chalon's work was intended as a gift from Victoria to her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Issued from the 1850s until 1912, in Queensland, in chronological order, they were released in the Province of Canada in 1851, Nova Scotia in 1853, Tasmania and New Zealand in 1855, The Bahamas and Natal in 1859, Grenada, New Brunswick and Queensland in 1860, and in 1870 in Prince Edward Island.

The effigy, found mainly on small sized stamps, appears inside an oval that has two main forms: the oval is either large enough to show the Queen's necklace or too small, so that only the upper part of the neck is visible, excluding the necklace. However, on the New Zealand stamps the circle has a larger diameter, so the upper part of the State Robes are also visible.

Selected bibliography

Williams, Louis N., & Williams, Maurice (1990). Fundamentals of Philately {revised ed.). American Philatelic Society. ISBN 0-9335-8013-4. 

Hornung, Otto (1970). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Stamp Collecting. Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-01797-4. 

Stuart Rossiter & John Fowler (1991). World History Stamp Atlas (reprint ed.). pub: Black Cat. ISBN 0-7481-0309-0. 

New articles

3 September 2016 Post Office Act 1908

Expanded articles

13 Nov. 2014 Inverted Jenny –
23 Oct. 2013 Trans-Mississippi Issue –


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