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So, You're a Philatelist. What Does That Mean?

What did you call me?! That might be how you feel but bear with me. In this blog we're going to tackle a digestible etymology of the term "philatelist", briefly look at the history of the stamp and finally I'll recommend some awesome organizations for letter aficionados.

What is "Philately"?

The study of stamps is called "philately". The term was coined in 1864 by collector George Herpins. He used the Greek "phil" meaning "attraction or affinity for something" and "ateleia" which means "exempt from duties and taxes". A collector of stamps -- or postal history, as I learned while writing this blog! -- is called a "philatelist".

There are many classifications within philately, such as "aerophilately" which is the study of AirMail or "revenue philately" the collection of stamps having to due with tax collection!

A Non-Boring History of the Stamp.

Did you know that until 1840 there were no stamps on letters? It was the "Penny Black" stamp which was the first adhesive stamp. By 1860 ninety countries -- including the U.S. -- had inherited this methodogly of pricing mail pieces from their cousins in the U.K.

Before 1840 it was actually the letter recipient who paid for the pleasure of receiving a letter, not the writer to send the post! If you didn't have the coin to hand when the mail man arrived at your door you weren't able to receive your letter.

Historically a stamp adhered to an envelope with "gum", or adhesive applied to the back after printing but before perforation. Not the most hygienic of methods to post a letter that's for sure! A U.K. study in the 1960s said that stamps were handled 'somewhat carelessly' but readily licked by the letter writer! Now letter writers are familiar with self-adhesive stamps which came into circulation in the 1970s.

Want to Meet Other Philatelists?

If you have experienced or know someone who has experienced Cancer than From Me To You is the organization for you to volunteer with! From Me To You sends letters to those fighting Cancer. If you're a letter writer and have a few stamps going spare why not send them along with a warm wish to a warrior?

Letters Connect is a series of online workshops to answer the age old question: What do I write a letter about? If you are looking for a warm, supportive and gentle letter community come along to one of the monthly workshops. A portion of the proceeds from the workshops go to From Me To You directly. Don't forget to check out Letters Connect on Twitter!

The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society is exactly what it says on the tin! Dianh, founder of The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society, runs her letter writing organization from the Letter Shed in her garden and shares totally brilliant things about stamps, letters, and post/mail boxes that make her smile and I promise will delight you as well!

I'm a member! Join the over 500 folks around the world who sport their Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society status proudly. Find founder Dinah on Twitter as well.

Penpalooza is the purest place on the internet. Haven't had a penpal since school years? Or perhaps you've never had a penpal and always wondered what life was like somewhere different from your front yard. Why not find out! Sign up for a penpal and get started letter writing today! Be sure to check out the Twitter "#Penpalooza" for a dash or rainbows and sunshine that will inspire you to write, write, write!

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