A stamp collector is a hobbyist who takes pleasure in collecting postage stamps. Today, stamp collecting and philately are used interchangeably. That is why the other name for a stamp collector is called a philatelist.
But strictly speaking, a philatelist studies and specializes in postage stamp identification. You can still be called a philatelist even if you do not own a stamp collection.
On the other hand, stamp collectors or stamp hobbyists only want to acquire stamps solely for pastime.
Most famous stamp collectors are a combination of both as stamp enthusiasts and as serious philatelists.
When someone collects postal stamps to the extreme, it is called philatomania. For example, a philatomaniac may collect old postage stamps and make it into a collage.
What is the origin of the word philatelist?
The word philately was coined by a French stamp hobbyist named Georges Herpin.
He combined two Greek words: philos, meaning “love of”, and atelia, meaning “exemption from postal taxes” to form the Anglicized term philately.
Long time ago, the letter’s addressee or receiver was obligated to pay for the mail. Since the postal service rates were high, people declined receiving mails.
Luckily, the British thought of a clever way to let the recipient know that his or her letter was already taxed at the local post office. Hence, the first postage stamps were made.
What is the proper name for a stamp collector?
Before the word philatelist became the universally-accepted term for a stamp collector or any postal item enthusiast, many stamp collector names emerged before the 1860s.
A stamp collector was then called a timbromanist since the old name for the art of stamp collecting was timbrophily, which was often used synonymously with timbrology and timbromania.
However, many stamp collectors found the name unpleasant. Eventually, they adapted new term philatelist.
What does a philatelist collect?
A philatelist is not only fascinated with postage stamps alone. You might be a little surprised to know that postage stamp collectors also like post cards, envelopes, labels, letters, and many more.
Here are some of the popular types of philatelists according to the items they collect:
Cinderella philatelist – people who collect stamp like objects like revenue stamps.
Maximaphilist – someone who collects postcards or maximum cards.
Aerophilatelist – those who are into airmail collecting.
Astrophilatelist – collectors of rocketmail or space shuttle mail.
Why collect stamps?
Anyone can begin stamp collecting anytime regardless of age. There are millions of stamp collectors worldwide both young and old.
Similarly, there are countless reasons for collecting stamps. Here are some of the few:
- Stamps are aesthetically pleasing. They are often considered as miniature works of Art. Postage stamps with artistic designs can really capture a philatelist who has an eye for beauty.
- Philatelists often find stamp grading and condition intellectually stimulating. Learning about the parts of the stamp and other technical aspects of philately is rewarding.
- Philatelists who collect stamp from their own country have a sense of national pride.
- Philatelists who are into collecting stamps of different countries learn a lot about geography, world history, natural resources, and different cultures.
- Since email has taken the place of letters, stamp collectors love the nostalgic feel that postage stamps bring.
- Some postage stamp collectors buy rare postage stamps for investment purposes. The value of old postage stamps in the stamp collector’s price guide can go as high millions of dollars.
- Philatelic organizations, such as stamp collectors clubs are good venues to find new friends and built lasting ties with other philatelists.
- Stamp exhibitions are exciting events to look forward to. They are usually held annually. Some stamp collectors guide list down the major philatelic events.
- Small countries and developing nations earn a profit by producing collectible commemorative stamps which are brought by postage stamp collectors from all over the world.
- Buying old stamps from charitable institutions, also known as kiloware, help fund causes for the needy.