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Beginning with the first stamps released in 1847, The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps covers over 4,000 stamps issued up to the present, and provides colour illustrations of every stamp and detailed listings that include Scott catalogue numbers, used and unused prices, dates of issues, and quantities issued when known. Also featured in this year's philatelist's bible is a rundown of the current year's commemorative stamp program; advice on starting your own collection (from assessing the condition of your ...
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Beginning with the first stamps released in 1847, The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps covers over 4,000 stamps issued up to the present, and provides colour illustrations of every stamp and detailed listings that include Scott catalogue numbers, used and unused prices, dates of issues, and quantities issued when known. Also featured in this year's philatelist's bible is a rundown of the current year's commemorative stamp program; advice on starting your own collection (from assessing the condition of your stamps to displaying your collection), and a complete resources section.
This year, the Greetings From America stamp pane shows just how fascinating stamp collecting can be. Did you know that it's the first pane of 50 stamps in 10 years? Or that the designs evoke retro "large-letter" postcards used to advertise cities, states, and tourist attractions? Stampcollectors know -- because they keep an eye out not only for distinctive stamps but also for the diverse American landmarks that appear on them. Issuances such as Greetings From America suggest the richness of the American scene, with its many extraordinary icons, monuments, and natural wonders. You never know what will turn up on a stamp, and that's all part of the fun.
Stamp collecting can be a lifelong hobby. It's fun andeducational for all ages, and it's easy to start without a big investment. Read on to find out how to start or build your very own collection.
What is philately?
The word philately (fi-latt'-eh-lee) means the study of stamps and other postal materials. Stamp collectors are sometimes called philatelists.
How do I start collecting stamps?
It's easy. You can start by simply saving stamps from letters, packages, and postcards. Ask your friends and family to save stamps from their mail.
Neighborhood businesses that get a lot of mail -- banks, stores, travel agencies, and others -- might save their envelopes for you, too.
Or, start your collection by choosing one or two favorite subjects. Then, collect stamps that fit your theme -- art history, sports, transportation, science, animals, and others -- whatever you choose! Thisis called topical or thematic stamp collecting. See the stamps pictured in these featured articles for ideas to get you started on a space theme!
Will it cost me a lot to start a collection?
No! Start with used stamps and a few inexpensive accessories (such as a small album and a package of stamp hinges), and you can have a great time on a limited budget. Remember to put stamps, albums, and hinges on your birthday and holiday wish lists, too!
What kinds of stamps are there?
There are a number of different types of stamps. Their purposes can be described as commemorative, definitive, or special; their formats can be in sheets, booklets, or coils. And all of these now exist with conventional adhesive (the "lock-and-stick" gum) or self-adhesive (the "no-lick, peel-and-stick" type).
Definitive stamps (also called "regular issues") are the most common type of postage stamp. They feature everything from statesmen to animals and from the American flag to historic vehicles. They tend to be fairly small (generally less than an inch square), with denominations (the face value printed on the stamp) from one cent to many dollars. They are printed in large quantities, often more than once, and tend to be available for several years.
Commemorative stamps are usually larger and more colorful than definitives. They are printed in smaller quantities and typically are printed only once. They remain on sale for a limited period of time, generally about a year; many post offices carry them for only a few months. They are issued for specific rates, most often the prime letter rate. They honor, or commemorate, important people, events, or subjects, all of which reflect some aspect of American culture.
Special stamps supplement the regular issues and tend to be more commemorative in appearance (larger and more colorful), while meeting specific needs. They may be reprinted, but tend to remain on sale for only the life of the specific rate for which they are issued. These include Christmas and Love stamps, Holiday Celebration stamps, international rate stamps (previously known as airmail stamps), Priority Mail, and Express Mail stamps.
Sheet stamps are printed as large press sheets, then trimmed into smaller units called panes, most of which measure less than eight by ten inches. Panes generally contain twenty stamps, but may contain up to a hundred or as few as one stamp; smaller commemorative panes, with fewer than ten stamps, are often called souvenir sheets, depending on their purpose. Individual stamps tend to have perfs (perforations) or die-cut edges (generally with a wavy pattern) on all sides.
Booklet stamps are designed to be folded into a convenient unit. Booklets generally contain twenty stamps and may contain separate panes of stamps in a small folder or may be issued in a flat unit designed to be folded into a booklet by the customer. Most individual booklet stamps have at least one straight edge (no perfs or die-cuts) andsometimes two adjacent straight edges.
Coil stamps are issued in rolls. Customers often buy them in rolls of a hundred stamps; business mailers can buy them in rolls of up to ten thousand stamps. Individual coil stamps usually have two straight edges on opposite sides.
How do I remove stamps from envelopes?
If you wish, you can save whole envelopes with stamps on them and store them anywhere -- from shoe boxes to special albums. These are called "covers." Collecting entire envelopes reflects a specialty called "Postal history." It's a good idea to save the whole envelope if there's something special about the address or return address (famous places or people for example), or the postmark (a date or location of some historic significance). See also the information below on collectible "first day covers" later in this article. If you want to remove stamps from envelopes, it pays to be careful. The best way to remove stamps from envelopes is to soak them. Here's how:
|Introduction: The Arts in Stamps||4|
|New 2004 Issues||8|
|Explanation of Catalog Prices||16|
|19th Century Stamps||18|
|Turn of the Century through World War II Stamps||42|
|Post World War II through Bicentennial Stamps||96|
|Bicentennial through Recent Stamps||182|
|Official and Penalty Mail Stamps||478|
|Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps||482|
|Airmail Envelopes and Aerogrammes||498|
|Postal Cards and Stamped Cards||504|
|American Commemorative Cancellations (Souvenir Pages)||514|
|American Commemorative Panels||525|
|Organizations, Publications and Resources||532|