Portal:Philately

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The Philately Portal

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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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In the United States a railway post office, commonly abbreviated as RPO, was a railroad car that was normally operated in passenger service as a means to sort mail en route, in order to speed delivery. The RPO was staffed by highly trained Railway Mail Service postal clerks, and was off-limits to the passengers on the train. In the UK, the equivalent term was Travelling Post Office (TPO). Many American railroads earned substantial revenues through contracts with the Post Office to carry mail aboard high-speed passenger trains.

The world's first official carriage of mail by rail was by the United Kingdom's General Post Office in November 1830 on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Sorting of mail en route first occurred in the United Kingdom with the introduction of the Travelling Post Office in 1838.

In the United States, some references suggest that the first shipment of mail carried on a train occurred in 1831 on the South Carolina Rail Road. Other sources state that the first official contract to regularly carry mail on a train was made with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in either 1834 or 1835. The United States Congress officially designated all railroads as official postal routes on July 7, 1838.

Similar services were introduced on Canadian railroads in 1859. In the United States it was introduced on July 28, 1862 using converted baggage cars on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad (which also delivered the first letter to the Pony Express).

Selected picture

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Cover sent by Zeppelin from Gibraltar on 20 November 1934 to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil via London and Berlin for the Christmas flight (12th South American flight) of 1934 that took place between the 8th and 19th. The two red "MIT LUFTSCHIFF GRAF ZEPPELIN" and green circular marking were applied by the post office. This is a printed matter item that has been registered.

Selected biography

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Benjamin Kurtz Miller (1857-1928) was a Milwaukee attorney who donated the first complete collection of U.S. stamps ever assembled to the New York Public Library in 1925. Great rarities and philatelic items in the Benjamin Miller Collection are the One-Cent Z Grill (two copies known), the rarest of all U.S. stamps.

Miller started late in life at the age of 61 when he bought one of the famous Inverted Jenny stamps in 1918. By the early 1920s, Miller was on the way to his ultimate achievement: collecting one of every U.S. postage stamp in the Scott catalogue of his day. He collected many varieties such as, color shades, frauds and forgeries, fresh unused stamps, and varied cancellations.

The collection was displayed at the library for more than 50 years. However it was locked away after a theft of some items in 1977. Even though a bulk of the collection was recovered it did not come back on display until recently; some of the collection was at the National Postal Museum in 2006 and 2007.

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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The "Treskilling" Yellow, or 3 skilling banco error of color, is a postage stamp of Sweden, and as of 2004 the most valuable stamp in the world. To date no other example has been found, so is most likely the only one in existence.

The 3-skilling banco value of the first postage stamps of Sweden, issued in 1855, was normally printed in a blue-green color, while the 8-skilling was printed in a yellowish orange shade. In 1886, a young collector named Georg Wilhelm Baeckman was going through covers in his grandmother's attic, and came across one with a 3-skilling stamp printed in the yellowish orange shade of the 8-skilling.

Each time it has been sold it has set world records. In 1984 the stamp made headlines when it was sold by David Feldman for 977,500 Swiss francs. A 1990 sale realised over one million US dollars and in 1996 it sold again for 2,500,000 Swiss francs.

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 –

Other Portals

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