Philately is the pastime of collecting postage stamps. It is a hobby that originated within a few years of the first issue of penny postage in England in 1810. When and how the hobby started is not exactly known. The French were the earliest to make systematic collections. They noted the different shades and designs, different schemes of water-colour, different border-marks of stamps.
Stamps are printed not only for daily use, but also for commemorative purpose. We have had stamps commemorating our Independence, the Buddha Jayanti, the University’s Centenary, and our eminent leaders like Gandhiji, Nehru, Netaji, and Dr. Ambedkar. Hence, stamps have an historical importance and remind us of past glories. Stamps also carry geographical information. A Tasmani in stamp will tell us of waterfalls and lakes in that island (Australia). We can know from postage stamps something of the flora and the fauna of a country, its art and architecture, its great men and great achievements. Stamps have been truly described as ‘medals stamped on paper’.
Philately was recommended as a hobby worth cultivating by no less a person than Thomas Huxley, the Scientist. As a hobby, it is of absorbing interest. The stamp-collector has friends all over the world with whom to consult and exchange interest and information. It helps a man to get a pleasant relief from the tiresome preoccupations of life.
We live in a utilitarian age. The profit-motive is paramount with us. Philately is also a profitable business. Valuable collections fetch fabulous sums. There is a regular market for the buying and selling of old stamps. To secure good specimens, to build up a neat and presentable album is the joy which a stamp-collector can have enough.
A good collector then can go to the market and sell his collection at considerable profit. Pleasure is thus coined into profit. It is the same with the collection of old coins. That surely is an ample source of satisfaction.