Philatelic literature

The hobby of philately is believed to produce more books, journals and periodicals than any other. This kind of literature includes a lot of interesting and useful information relating to stamp collecting and postal history

There are many places you can find philatelic books, periodicals, and auction catalogs, all of which can be helpful in understanding, expanding, and eventually disposing of your collection. Such a philatelic literature can be bought or borrowed during the stamp auctions as well as special libraries. If you want to acquire some specific books it is better to turn to a dealer who specializes in philatelic literature.

A historical insight

The birth of philatelic literature coincided with an invention of a hobby of stamp collecting itself. To be precise, first price lists of stamps, the first form of literature, were published in the 1850s, and the first stamp catalogue was compiled by Alfred Potiquet in 1861. When the hobby of stamp collecting became extremely popular and special philatelic societies began to appear, the special libraries were created.

The bright example is the Royal Philatelic Society London (the oldest philatelic society still in existence) that was formed in 1869 created a philatelic library in 1887 which houses on over 2000 linear meters of shelving, a phenomenal repository of information nowadays.

The forms of philatelic literature

The philatelic literature can have many forms: manuscripts typed or printed text, magnetic media such as video tapes, electronic media such as on personal computers, or 'html' text within a web or internet site. In spite of the popularity of these media resources printed books remain the main source to get the needed knowledge on a particular philately subject.

The popularity of internet resources is explained by the fact that only there you can achieve a specific range of philatelic books that are difficult to find in the printed word. Another aspect that makes web sites the main source of information for stamp collectors is their use of illustrations; there are many sites that provide a picture of collections, album pages, and many, many stamps. Moreover, the bibliographical aspect of websites has even wider implications to research.

For instance, the huge American Philatelic Society's Library is accessible through the Internet, providing a research tool second to none. There are a number of other sites like this. A very important type of philatelic literature is the popular columns written for daily newspapers. These columns are very important as they are the means of bringing the hobby of philately to the non-collector audience. The same function the articles that are published in general magazines, stamp magazines or specialist society journals possess.


It is essential to name some popular philatelic periodicals that are extremely 
popular among the philatelists: 

	The American Philatelist - worldwide topics with a focus on USA 
	Canadian Stamp News - worldwide topics with a focus on Canada 
	Deutsche Briefmarken Zeitung (Germany) 
	Gibbons Stamp Monthly (UK) - worldwide topics with a focus on Great 
        Britain and the British Commonwealth 
	Linn's Stamp News (USA) - worldwide topics with a focus on USA


As the first philatelic journal was published many years ( in 1862 "Monthly Intelligencer") the number of philatelic articles is difficult to determine.

The simplest form of philatelic literature is considered to be price lists in which a collector can find stamp values of philatelic items from around the world. Catalogues make up another field of literature that grew out of simple price lists and can be very specialized. The stamp catalogues are changed and renewed almost every week as they should be up to date to the changes on the philatelic market.

This type of literature is an important source of information on what was is available on the stamp market at a particular time.

The handbook is another type of literature that can be helpful in extending and maintaining your stamp collection. Here you can find such useful information as deep knowledge on a stamp, a country, a theme etc. In spite of their practicality the handbooks are issued in a limited number of items due to the fact that they are often specialized and are interesting to a specific type of collectors.

Specialized studies

Specialized studies are philatelic literature that suit to a limited number of stamp collectors. To be precise the information given in this type of literature is very specific and concentrates on a particular question in philately or the particular stamp. Very often specialists write monographs summarizing everything they know about a single type of stamp - the history of its design, the printing process, when and where the stamp was sold to the public, and all the ways it was used on mail. If the stamp is particularly rare, the book may actually include a census of every single copy known to exist and be especially interesting for stamp collectors. To summarize, it is essential to name the main types of philatelic literature. Use them and you will become a real professional in your hobby. So, philatelic literature is generally divided into the following categories:


•	Stamp catalogues 
•	Single country catalogues 
•	Worldwide catalogues 
•	Geographic area catalogues (e.g. Africa) 
•	Time period catalogues (e.g. Reign of King George V) 
•	Specialized catalogues (e.g. postmarks, plate blocks, perfins, etc.) 
•	Periodicals 
•	Journals 
•	Society newsletters 
•	Auction catalogues