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A unique hobby that is both entertaining and educational!
Every stamp is a miniature window on the world. Every stamp is a treasure trove of knowledge and information.
Philately is the study and collecting of stamps, postmarks, envelopes, cards, and other philatelic items. It is a hobby that fosters the imagination and observational skills, while through it, collectors also learn to be more organised, meticulous and methodical.
The first stamp was issued in 1840 in the United Kingdom. It featured a profile of Queen Victoria and was known as the Penny Black.
The first Greek stamp, known as the Large Hermes Head, was issued on 1st October 1861. Designed by the famous French engraver Albert Barre (son of J. Barre, the creator of the first French stamps), it was printed at the Ernest Meyer printing house in Paris.
Discover the fascinating history of Greek stamps in Dr. Myrsini Vardopoulou’s book Greek Stamps 1861-1961.
Stamp collecting for beginners
There are two main categories of stamps:
- Commemorative sets: These commemorate people or events and are available for a limited period. Hellenic Post commemorative stamps are usually available for one or two years. Afterwards, they are withdrawn and destroyed.
- Definitive (regular) sets: These serve regular postal needs and circulate until they are sold out.
Let’s have a look at some useful terms:
- Class: The denomination indicated on each stamp and the price at which it is sold at the post office.
- Perforations: These are the small holes around a stamp that allow it to be separated from the sheet where it is printed. A perforation gauge is used to measure how many holes (or “teeth”) a stamp has.
- Thematic collection: A collection of stamps depicting or relating to a specific theme such as animals, plants, or famous people, regardless of the country of issue.
- Miniature sheet: A gummed collectible sheet containing one or more stamps with or without perforations and issued to mark a philatelic or national event or anniversary. They typically have a large, illustrated margin around the stamps and details of the event, person or thing featured on the stamps. The stamps may be available in other formats, such as full sheets or booklets, or may be available only as a miniature sheet.
- Souvenir sheet: A sheet smaller than the standard sheet of 20 or 25 stamps. The souvenir sheet contains two, three or four stamps of a specific set, joined together and fully perforated.
- Mint condition: Collectors pay particular attention to make sure the stamps in their collections are flawless. They make sure that
- they have no creases, tears, stains or marks
- if unused, the gum is even and unbroken
- if unperforated, the margin is regular on each side
- for postmarked stamps, the postmark is clear, without smudging [AA1] or too much ink
Learn the glossary of stamp collecting through Moses Konstantinis’ Philatelic Dictionary.
The basic tools of the stamp collector.
1. A good pair of tweezers to hold the stamps without creasing them or leaving fingerprints on the gum. (Purchase here)
2. A good magnifying glass to see the smallest details of the stamp but also any flaws that are not visible to the naked eye. (Purchase here)
3. A catalogue to assist classification and provide information about all the stamps issued in Greece. (Purchase here)
4. A good perforation gauge to measure the perforations of the stamps. (Purchase here)
5. An album to arrange and protect your stamps. (Purchase here).