Monday 6 April 2009

Yes I Collect Stamps! I am a Philatelist. (31.01.2010)

My four collections

”Do you play golf”? – Having moved to Malaysia I often get that question. “No I don’t, but I collect stamps, and I have done so since I was six”, I answer. The reaction to this statement varies a lot. Some are reminded that they themselves did collect stamps, but have lain off long ago. Others suddenly remember inheriting a collection and wonder where could it be? Many are surprised and say. “Do people really still collect stamps?” as if the hobby belongs to the past!

Apart from the poshness that clings to the word “philatelist” there is traditionally a marked difference between a stamp collector and a philatelist. The stamp collector gathers as many different stamps that he or she can get hold of and put them into stock books in a more or less systematic fashion. The philatelist goes deeper into the history behind a stamp, its motive and use and possibly its different types and errors. Having studied the collection a philatelist may try to tell a story based on the stamps. It is up to each collector to decide what story to tell and whether to present the story to an audience at an exhibition.

I like to tell a story with my stamps and I have exhibited a collection. One of my stories is about “Chatou, my village west of Paris”. That collection consists mainly of covers, postcards and a few miscellaneous items. The bridge that crosses the Seine and by which you enter Chatou by train or by car is a historic building, as is the distinctive cultural character of the village being the place where famous impresssionist painters and actors from Paris enjoyed themselves in the late 1900.

The bridge looked less romantic at the time of the Civil War in France.

The letter below was sent from Chatou at the time of the French revolution or "the civil war". The date is March 5, 1799, but the letter says year 7. A real revolution takes off from year 1 which corresponds to 1792, the year the monarchy was abolished and the republic created in France. Napoleon abolished the Jacobine calendar in 1804.

My collection of Newspaper Wrappers worldwide from before 1900 is a different ballgame. I collect the bands that you find around newspapers or bro¬chures sent by the post. In choosing the above well defined title I am able to do what many a new stamps collector dreams of doing, but will soon discover is impossible: Collecting the whole world. Here is a beautiful wrapper from Ratzeburg 1861, a part of Denmark at the time.

I come from Haderslev, a marked town in Sønderjylland, Denmark. I know that Slesvig-Holsten’s history is as fascinating as it is complex, which of course marks its postal history as well. From my collection of Slesvig-Holsten I show you a Ladies’ cover sent from Rendsburg to Berlin in 1848. Just before the first Slesvig war from 1849-51.

Dear to me is my collection of the bi-coloured stamps from Denmark and the former Danish West Indies; a series that was in use from 1870 – 1905. I find the colours of these stamps particularly pretty. With a little help from my friends I have learnt to appreciate the challenge of positioning these stamps and to reconstruct panes. The more you know about them, the greater are your chan¬ces in finding real rarities for your collection for small sums of money. I show you a registered cover sent from Copenhagen to Finland in 1877.

The ways that stamps are collected have developed considerably over the years. Traditionally one collected the stamps of a country. Today building a collection over a topic is also popular and the difficulties involved cannot be underestimated. You need to know about the ins and outs of the history the Vikings if you plan to build a stamp collection about them. Postal history will take you to “dead countries” like Biafra and Yugoslavia. You will get acquainted with censor marks and letters from prisoners of war. A registered postcard – in itself unusual – from Ribe to a soldier at Lyon in France is shown below.

Easily combined with a stamp collection are postcards, which have become ever so popular. Here is a postcard showing the Post Office in Sorø as it looked in December 1903.

Note its posing staff and the Mrs. at the balcony. According to a recently published book about the Danish postal Services 1624-1927 Jørgen Christian Pedersen Lind was the Post Master at the time, so he might be the bearded gentleman standing on the balcony.

Internet is a gift to philately. Via the many contacts you get it is possible to create whatever collection you can imagine. The stamps and covers are out there. They just need to be found. You have access to auc¬tions, dealers and collectors worldwide. Try for discussion and,, to discover the diverse supply and “yes!” there are pitfalls. The first forgeries came about already in the 1870’ies and they are also out there. In the philatelic world “knowledge is king”. And where better to get wiser than in a Philatelic Society. I am a member of The Philatelic Society of Malaysia and of Royal Philatelic Society London just to mention a few.

The Universal Postal Union states on its website “Stamp Collecting remains one of the world’s most popular hobbies. As a roving ambassador of the issuing country, the postage stamp offers a glimpse into a country’s cultural, artistic and historical heritage”. I find this a most fitting description


Jeevan Jyoti said...

Wonderful Blog with lot of information. I add to my links

Keijo said...

Great writing!

It's a pitty that so many stamp collectors are very shy or ashamed about their hobby if asked... said...

Wow! Interesting information about Philately.

Anonymous said...

Hello Thanks for such a perfect submit and the evaluation, I'm completely impressed! Maintain stuff like this coming.

Brian Denham ( Bede ) said...

As is usual Svend , your writings are interesting and informative. I would encourage all to view more of your work at

Anonymous said...

Magnificent website. Lots oof helpful information here.
I'm sending it to several pals ans also sharing in delicious.
And naturally, thanks for your sweat!