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Stamp album sleeve.jpg
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

2d Map of Ireland- first Irish postage stamp.jpg

Cscr-featured.svg The postage stamps of Ireland are issued by the postal operator of the independent Irish state. Ireland was part of the UK when the world's first postage stamps were issued in 1840. These stamps, and all subsequent British issues, were used in Ireland until the new Irish Government assumed power in 1922. On 17 February 1922 the existing British stamps were overprinted with Irish text for use as definitives until Irish designs were available. Rgular definitive were produced by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and issued on 6 December 1922; the first stamp was a 2d value, depicting a map of Ireland (including Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom).

Since then nine series of definitives have been issued while commemorative stamps did not appear until 1929. Oifig an Phoist, the Irish Post Office, issued all Irish stamps up to 1984 when the Department of Posts and Telegraphs was divided into two semi-state organisations; An Post took over the responsibility for all Irish postal services including the issuing of postage stamps.

Forerunners, essays, miniature sheets, booklet, coil, airmail stamps, postage dues and postal stationery are some of the Irish philatelic items known and collectable.

Selected picture


A postal stationery envelope used from London to Düsseldorf in 1900, with additional postage stamp perfinned "C & S" identifying the user as "Churchill & Sim" per the seal on the reverse shown on inset. A perfin, the contraction of 'PERForated INitials', is a pattern of tiny holes punched through a postage stamp. Organizations used perforating machines to make perforations forming letters or designs in postage stamps with the purpose of preventing pilferage. It is often difficult to identify the originating uses of individual perfins because there are often no identifying features but when a perfin is affixed to a cover that has some user identifying feature, like a company name, address, or even a postmark or cancellation of a known town where the company had offices, this enhances the perfin.

Selected biography


Ralph Allen (1693–1764) was a British mine owner, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who became a Post Office clerk in Bath and on February 13, 1712 became its Postmaster and remained so until 1848. He became Mayor of Bath in 1842.

At age twenty-seven Allen received a seven-year contract to control the Cross or Bye Posts that had begun to appear in the seventeenth century; for this he paid £6,000 per year but even though he only broke even he continued. He reformed the postal service by creating a network of postal roads that did not pass through London. It is estimated he saved the Post Office £1,500,000 over a 40 year period having renewed the seven-year contracts until his death.

Prior Park, his Palladian mansion was his home from about 1834 until his death. It was built from Bath Stone from his own Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines and located on a hillside overlooking the city of Bath.

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

Inverted Swan.jpg

The Inverted Swan, a 4-pence blue postage stamp issued in 1855 by Western Australia, was one of the world's first invert errors. Technically, it is a "frame invert". In 1854, Western Australia issued its first stamps, featuring the colony's symbol, the Black Swan. The 1d black was engraved in Great Britain by Perkins Bacon while other values, including the 4d blue, were produced in Perth with different frames around the swan design for each value.

In January 1855, additional 4d stamps were needed. When the printing stone was brought out of storage it was found that two of the impressions had been damaged, so they had to be redone. One of the replaced frames was tilted; the other was accidentally redone upside-down. Ninety-seven sheets were printed before the mistake was discovered and corrected, resulting in a total of 388 errors being printed.The errors went unrecognized and unreported for several years and only 15 complete copies, plus a part of a stamp in a strip of three, have survived.

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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