Stamp research is called Philately. Many Americans have drawn to this large field of research. This attraction with stamps and all of the history relating to them has started a hobby connected to philately, which is stamp collecting.
Normally, stamp collecting starts by acquiring a few stamps and choosing a certain type of stamp that the collector will pay attention to. Stamps can be acquired for the collection either through the postal office, private letters, dealers of stamps, making a trade with fellow collectors of high quality and rare stamps in whatever type that is chosen.
Although, the philatelic hobby may appear to be hard or vague, it really is not. It is not an uncommon idea to study and collect stamps. There are over 100 countries throughout the world that have a group of people called philatelists (people that study stamps).
In the year 1886, numerous philatelists joined together in America and formed the American Philatelic Society (APS). It has been over a century now, the APS gives its members not only a way to get together with other enthusiasts, but also provide many programs and information to help in the pleasure and enrichment of the collecting experience. Over a long time, many people have helped APS by donating, selling different publications, and collecting dues of members. The group of people in APS is large and may not be overlooked. In America, there are over 44,000 philatelists members of APS exclusively. There are a large number of people getting involved but have yet to discover APS. This great amount of people is validated by the fact that many states have conventions in the area for people excited about Philately. There is another philatelic association in America with many experts and that is the Philatelic Foundation.
There is a large variety of collections that are available. Many have postage stamps which came from different countries (mainly those of age). These include stationery postage, revenue stamps, and first day cover stamps.
However, there is one category that stands out in the USA. These are Federal Duck stamps, which duck hunters need. The purpose of these is to conserve the environment and help the ducks. A popular preservationist by the name of Ding Darling created the first Federal Duck stamp in 1934. After a while it became a tradition and many wildlife artists competed. The winner of the competition had his or her design picked to be on the new Federal Duck stamp for the year. That person earned a good reputation and was held in high regard for winning the competition. The American government works with local state agencies and the Department of Interior to manage the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. The sales of the stamps produces a large sufficient revenue that new wetlands can be acquired which help to preserve and protect the ducks.
First-day covers (FDCs), which many stamp collectors are finding more interesting, are stamped envelopes that are terminated on the same day the stamps were released. Some of the FDCs that were designed later will bear the motif of a special stamp's issue, also called a cachet. In 1923, George W. Linn a famous philatelist cached the first FDC for the Harding Memorial stamp issue. Many people consider cachetmaking an art form today and is accomplished by different means. These ways include lithography, drawing straight on the envelope, using laser printer, and block printing. There are several cachetmaking companies like Colorano, House of Farnam, and Artcraft that make a large amount of the cacheted stamps in America.
Stamp collecting in the US was not always easy to follow. During the 1920s, the US stamp values were much higher. This motivated countless Americans to acquire large quantities of US stamp issues in mint condition and hiring to sell them much later for a profit. Since there was an abundance available in the market, they are priced only a little more than their original face value.
The trend of stamp collecting and philately in America may increase in the coming years. Email and internet use has many critics saying that philately interests will go down. Many people still need stamps and demand is continuing as stamp designs change frequently. The world of philately will continue to be an exciting place.