The process of stamp collecting is almost as old as the stamp itself. There have been documented cases of meetings of stamp collectors taking place as early as 1841, and advertisements placed by like-minded individuals who enjoyed stamp collecting in the mid-1800s. The first government-issued stamp was introduced in 1840 in Great Britain. Sir Rowland Hill, the post master general at the time, designed the first stamp and changed the way we collect those little pieces of valuable paper.
Today, the American Philatelic Society and other groups of stamp collectors promote stamp collecting and highlight the study of stamps.
Some of the most interesting collectors I have met are young people who have taken up the hobby with their parents or grandparents. Like coin collecting, stamp collecting is a great way to introduce children to the fun of collecting a piece of Americana.
The publication USA Philatelic, available at your local post office, is a source for stamp products available from the United States Postal Service. It is known as the official source magazine for stamp enthusiasts. The current issue of the magazine features new items for collectors such as newly issued stamps like those featuring Jimi Hendrix, gay rights activist Harvey Milk and actor Charlton Heston; souvenir booklets of 20 stamps focusing on J.K. Rowling’s character, Harry Potter; stamped cards and envelopes picturing a folk art eagle and bank swallow bird; and thematic stamps like those appropriate for wedding invitations, graduations and holidays.
The magazine provides historical information about the history of stamp collecting by providing fast facts about some of the best known stamps — like the misprinted inverted jenny airplane stamp, which was first printed on Sept. 22, 1913, at Washington, D.C.; and the last chance to buy the collectible Ronald Reagan Centennial stamp, which was first issued on Feb. 10, 2011, at Simi Valley, Calif.
These special commemorative stamps introduced more collectors to the hobby. Today, collectors gather stamps that relate to military history, sports heroes, special events and more . The first commemorative stamp printed in America marked the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering the New World. It was introduced in 1893, the same year as the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago’s World’s Fair.