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FAQ's : Why do people collect stamps?
Before the postage stamp came into being, anyone who wanted to send a letter had to either pay the carrier in advance for the service, which was based on an agreed or negotiated fee, or the carrier was paid by the receiver on delivery. Letters sent in this way commonly have some form of manuscript marking on the cover, usually showing the fee charged and they may also bear postal markings of some kind.

Rowland Hill, a British citizen and teacher, devised a new system of carriage, based on the sender pre-paying the carrier costs by way of purchasing a pre-printed stamp, or stamps as may have been required, and affixing it to the letter to be posted. This would be cancelled at the office of posting and delivered to the addressee, often being cancelled on the reverse of the letter on receipt at the nearest post office.

The first stamp, the Penny Black of Great Britain, was issued on 6th May 1840. This system was soon adopted by many countries thereafter and it developed quickly, leading to the issuing of stamps for each country, with different values and/or colours designed to pay for the various services that were made available. This system opened up the postal service to anyone who could write and was able to afford the rather inexpensive cost of a postage stamp.

Stamp collecting was a natural result of this new system of postage. Now pre-paid letters were being received by a far wider audience than ever before, often with rather unusual and often attractive stamps affixed to the letter, depicting kings & queens, emblems, coats-of-arms, seals & charters and a slowly evolving myriad of designs selected and produced by each country for this purpose.

The curiosity of the public was piqued and the hobby of stamp collecting quickly evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, as people tried to obtain copies of all the stamps a country or a group of countries issued. These little pieces of printed paper told stories of far-off places, strange lands and people and the flow of information grew in leaps and bounds. Today, stamp collecting has become a multi-million Dollar industry spanning the world.

Collecting stamps was aptly called "the king of hobbies and the hobby of kings" and that is how it has remained to this day. Anyone can collect stamps and they are not only fun but also highly educational. The hobby appeals to all ages and people from all walks of life. It does not have to be an expensive pastime, but there is also no limit how far one can develop a collection.

The hobby now encompasses all kinds of stamps and related material, including such things as Revenue stamps, documents, postal history & postal stationery, post cards, postmarks, stamp booklets, Christmas & Easter "charity" stamps & labels, etc. One only has to attend a stamp exhibition to witness the wide world of philately and the incredible lengths that collectors go to build fine collections that not only educate, but inspire and fascinate anyone who cares to investigate.

Starting a stamp collection could be the beginning of the most amazing voyage of discovery. Once bitten by the collecting "bug", it's often something that remains for life and is very rewarding in so many ways. Some of the finest people you will ever meet are stamp collectors and their knowledge, both general and specific, makes them among the most interesting people on earth.

The majority of philatelists will only be too pleased to help you on your way; all you need do is ask.

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