Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stamp collecting themes

As a stamp collector, the hobby starts with collecting stamps of each of native country and then as a collection starts to grow, the fascination leads to focus on themes or on specific topics of interest. So, to put it simply, the stamp collecting then focuses on a particular subject. There are many catalogues which are not just country based but based on themes.

When each stamp collector sort their stamps, they tend to find numerous themes. In fact, so many stamps have been issued on certain popular themes such as "sports", "ships" or "birds", it literally becomes near impossible to complete the collection and then topical collectors try to specialize further, such as by looking for only sub-topic like cricket on stamps, or only flightless birds etc.

We bring below some of the themes or topics that are used for collection of postage stamps:


  • Animals on stamps
    • Dinosaurs on stamps
    • Endangered animals on stamps
    • Dog stamps
    • Horse on stamps
    • Turtles and tortoises on stamps
  • Astronomy on stamps
  • Fish on stamps
  • Flowers on stamps
  • Insects on stamps
  • Mountains on stamps 
  • Trees, Fruits, plants etc. on stamps

Activities or man-made objects

  • Arts on Stamps 
  • Architecture or buildings on stamps
  • Aeroplanes on stamps
  • Balloon on stamps
  • Books/Novels on stamps
  • Cartoon characters on stamps
  • Flags on stamps
  • Fire service on stamps
  • Maps on stamps
  • Musical instruments on stamps
  • Paintings on stamps
  • Radio and broadcasting on stamps
  • Religion on stamps
    • Religious places on stamps
    • Festivals on stamps
  • Ships on stamps
  • Space exploration on stamps
  • Sports on stamps
    • Golf on stamps
    • Cricket on stamps
    • Olympic games on stamps
    • Football(soccer) on stamps
  • Stamps on stamps
  • Trains on stamps 
    • Train engines on stamps
  • Vehicles on stamps
    • Cars on stamps
    • Bicycle on stamps
 Celebrating individuals
  • People on stamps
    • Presidents on stamps
    • Sports persons on stamps
    • Nobel prize winners on stamps
    • Musicians on stamps
    • Religious leaders on stamps
    • Authors/writers on stamps
Then there are joint issues of two or more countries either bilaterally or to celebrate a common event. More information is available on joint issues at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_issue

Thursday, February 14, 2013

First postage stamp...Origin of stamp and postal history of each country

Before the use of adhesive paper stamps, letters were hand stamped or postmarked with ink. Postmarks were the invention of Henry Bishop and were at first called 'Bishop mark' after the inventor. Bishop marks were first used in 1661 at the London General Post Office. They marked the day and month the letter was mailed.

An schoolmaster from England, Rowland Hill invented the adhesive postage stamp in 1837, an act for which he was knighted. Through his efforts the first stamp in the world was issued in England on May 6, 1840 known as the British Penny Black stamp was released. The Penny Black was engraved the profile of Queen Victoria's head, who remained on all British stamps for the next sixty years. Roland Hill also created the first uniform postage rates that were based on weight rather than size. Hill's stamps made the prepayment of mail postage possible and practical.

It is always interesting to know when and how the first stamp was issued by each country. As a stamp collector, it also remains as a prized possession in any collection.

We will start in alphabetical order:

1. First postage stamp of Afghanistan - The first stamps of Afghanistan appeared in 1871 were round in shape, imperforate, and printed in black, with a crude tiger's head ("Sher" meaning "tiger"), surrounded by Arabic script specifying one of three denominations. Cancellation was accomplished by cutting or tearing off a piece of the stamp.

However, the first issue after independence came out on 24th August 1920, a design featuring the royal star of King Amanullah. The three denominations were also the first to use Latin script for the numerals as well as Arabic.

2. First postage stamp of Albania - Initially, the land of Albania was once part of the Ottoman Empire. Following the collapse of that empire, Albania was able to achieve its independence in 1912. So, Albania used the postage stamps of Turkey (Ottoman empire) from 1870 to 1913. Post independence, Albania issued its first set of 10 stamps in 1913. Postage stamps from Albania are marked Shqiperia, Shqiperise and Shqiptare. The reason is that the name Albania is an English name; the name of the country in its native language is "Shqipëria". The native name means "Land of the Eagles"; the national symbol for Albania is a two-headed eagle.

3. First postage stamp of Algeria - The beginning date for postal history in Algeria is unclear, but letters sent by Europeans in Algiers go back to 1690. Regular postal service came in with the French rule in Algeria, initially as a military post established in 1830 in Algiers, which was then opened to civilians in 1835, but still using military hand stamps until 1839, after which date stamps with town names became standard. The service expanded into the interior along with French control, with 295 post offices in operation by 1880. Algerian mail used stamps of France beginning 1 January 1849. Early cancellations were a simple grill similar to French usage, but after 1852 the service switched to a lozenge of dots surrounding a number identifying the post office.
Independent Algeria started its own stamp program on 2nd July 1962, with locally-applied overprints reading "EA" on stocks of French stamps. These overprints exist in a wide variety of colors and typefaces. These continued in use until 31 October, and were superseded the following day by a set of five designs showing local scenes, and inscribed "REPUBLIQUE ALGERIENNE" in both French and Arabic (the first appearance of Arabic on Algerian stamps).

4. First postage stamp of Andorra - Stamp collectors who enjoy Andorra collect the stamps of one country that has two governments.  Spain and France each release stamps for this principality, which is the sixth-smallest country in Europe.

- Spanish - Andorra’s Spanish Administration issued the co-principality’s first stamps in 1928. This was a set of overprints using the Spanish regular issues of the twenties. Original designs debuted in the fall of 1929, both with and without control numbers printed on the gum, and depicting local scenes. This series of stamps was replaced in 1948.

- French - The French Administration’s first stamps were 
issued in June, 1931, overprints of French regular issues dating back to 1900. A long, fifty plus issue set of pictorials was released starting in 1932 inscribed "Vallees d'Andorre", a set of stamps which depicted churches such as Our Lady's Chapel, Meritxell and St. Michael's Church, Engolasters and it wasn’t until the sixties that commemoratives began to appear with regularity.

5. First postage stamp of Angola - A colony of Portugal since the 16th century, Angola was part of the Portuguese mail service. Its first stamps date from 1870, six values depicting the Portuguese crown in a design common to all the colonies

Angola became independent in 1975. The first stamp of independent Angola was a 1.50-escudo value issued on 11 November 1975; it depicted a hand holding a rifle aloft, in front of a star.

6. First postage stamp of Antigua & Barbuda - Antigua was discovered by Christopher Columbus, in 1493, and was named after the church of Santa Maria la Antigua in Seville. It was first settled in 1632. By the Treaty of Breda in 1667 it became a British Possession.

Antigua issued its first stamp with value of 6 pence stamp on 1st July 1862. Like Great Britain, Antigua's philatelic history commences with an engraved stamp from the house of Perkins, Bacon and Co., London. It was engraved by C. H. Jeens. Printed from plates engraved in recess by Perkins, Bacon and Co. White wove paper. No watermark. Rough perforation 14 to 16.

Barbuda is an island in the Eastern Caribbean, and forms part of the state of Antigua and Barbuda. Barbuda is located north of Antigua, in the middle of the Leeward Islands. The first separate issue came as early as 1922, ‘Barbuda’ overprints of stamps of the Leeward Islands. Stamps of Antigua and Leeward Islands were both used for postage until 1968. Between 1971 and1973, Antigua stamps were exclusively used. Barbuda issued its own stamps between 1968 and 1971 and from 1973. Between 1988 and 1995, only four designs with the Barbuda inscription were issued. From 1995 onwards, Barbuda has only issued stamps with Barbuda overprints.
7. First postage stamp of ArgentinaThe earliest Argentine stamps were issued by the separate provinces of Corrientes (1856-80) and Córdoba (1859-62), and the State of Buenos Aires (1858-59).

The first stamp of Argentina as a nation was a rather crude lithographed seal of the Confederation (Scott #1 to 4) on May 1, 1858 and it was followed by first stamps after having become a republic on January 11, 1862 by the seal of the Argentine Republic (Scott #5 to 7). 

From 1864 to the first commemorative in 1892 a total of 24 different designs were issued. The majority of these stamp designs were small portraits of famous men, principally of the Independence period. The first items of postal stationery to be issued by Argentina were envelopes in 1876 followed by newspaper wrappers and postcards in 1878. lettercards were issued in 1888 and aerogrammes were first issued in 1963.

8. First postage stamp of Armenia - The Democratic Republic of Armenia was founded on May 28, 1918, but stamps were first issued in 1919 overprinted on Russia. From 1922 the country issued its own definitives; and from 1923 used overprinted Russian stamps, and as a constituent of the Transcaucasian Federation, that specifically produced 15 stamps of their own, used the federation stamps though they were only in use until 1924. From 1924, upon a decree from the central government of the USSR, only regular Soviet Union issued stamps were in use until November 1991.
Armenia became an independent state on September 21, 1991 though the first stamps, a se-tenant trio, were issued on April 28, 1992 to commemorate Independence Day.

The first stamps to be issued in the new Armenian currency, the dram, that was introduced to replace the rouble used for the previous issues since independence, appeared on August 4, 1994 illustrating treasures of Etchmiadzin.

9. First postage stamp of Australia - The six self-governing Australian colonies that formed the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901 operated their own postal service and issued their own stamps

For most, Australian philately proper begins on 2 January 1913 with the issue of a red 1d (one penny) Kangaroo and Map, the design of which was adopted in part from the entry that won the Stamp Design Competition. This was the first definitive stamp with the sole nomenclature “Australia”.

Australia's first commemorative stamp was issued on 9 May 1927 to mark the opening of the first Parliament House in Canberra.

10. First postage stamp of Austria - The postage stamp issues of Austria began on 1 June 1850 with a series of imperforate typographed stamps featuring the coat of arms. At first they were printed on a rough handmade paper, but after 1854 a smooth machine-made paper was used instead. Issues between 1858 and 1861 used a profile of Emperor Franz Josef, then switched back to the coat of arms, in an oval frame. Four clichés of the 1850 issue had St. Andrew's crosses printed per pane so that an even multiple of gulden were paid per pane sold.

The scarlet Red Mercury, or "rote Murkur," issued on March 21, 1856 is the rarest of the lithographed newspaper stamps authorized on September 12, 1850 which bore Mercury heads but no denominations.

On 6 April 1850 the Austro-German Postal Union agreement was concluded between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Prussia to take effect from 1 July 1850. The primary purpose of the agreement was to provide a uniform system of postal rates. By 1 June 1852 all the remaining German states joined the Union. It subsequently became the model for the creation of the Universal Postal Union in 1874.

The first issues of German Austria (first Republic) were overprints reading "Deutschösterreich" on stamps of the empire, issued beginning in December 1918. In 1919 the republic issued new designs; a post horn, the coat of arms, a kneeling man representing the new republic, and the Parliament building, all done in a vaguely Art Nouveau style, and inscribed "DEUTSCHÖSTERREICH" ("ÖSTERREICH" appeared in 1922).

The modern postage can be traced to the issues produced by the Second Republic which became available on 24 November 1945. 
11. First postage stamp of Azerbaijan - The first stamps of Azerbaijan were issued in 1919 by the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and consisted of a set of ten pictorial designs to 50r. There are two distinct printings, a 1919 printing on white paper with whitish gum and a 1920 printing on buff paper with yellow gum or no gum.

On 27 April 1920 the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) was created, which became a part of the Soviet Union (USSR). The first stamps of the ASSR were issued in 1921 and consisted of a set of 15 stamps showing local and political scenes including an oil well and a mosque. 

On 12 March 1922, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia were federated as the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (TSFSR). From 1 October 1923 ASSR stamps were replaced completely by stamps of the TSFSR which were used until the dissolution of the TSFSR and the second re-founding of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) in 1936. The stamps of the ASSR were issued again along with the country-wide Soviet stamps which were used until the dissolution of the ASSR and the Soviet Union in 1991.

On 19 November 1990, the ASSR was renamed the Republic of Azerbaijan. It became an independent country on 18 August 1991 and its first stamp was issued on 26 March 1992 to mark its independence. Unlike most other ex-Soviet republics, Azerbaijan did not overprint Soviet stamps to meet their postal needs after independence.