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Postal Stationery includes all the stationery issued by the postal authorities on which a design has been made showing its value for postage. The most common forms are: stamped envelopes, stamped letter sheets (including aerogrammes), postal cards, letter cards, and newspaper wrappers. In other countries postal savings forms, money order forms, or telegraph forms are considered to be Postal Stationery, if they have value stamps printed on them.
The other forms that don`t have value designs are very popular among collectors. These philatelic items refer to formula cards, penalty envelopes, and aerogramme forms to which adhesives must be affixed. The great popularity among the collectors gained pre-stamp letters, with their very interesting, and often historic, postal markings. These items belong to the field of Postal History, rather than Postal Stationery. In spite of this fact they are also often collected. Picture post cards, also, belong to another category of Postal Stationary if they do not have value stamps printed on them.
The interesting fact is that Postal stationary as the branch of philately is much older than stamps themselves. We can name the first items are considered to be the Venetian "A-Q" letter sheets date from 1608; the Sardinia sheets from 1818; the revenue devices on British newspapers provided free postage after 1821; and the Sydney, New South Wales, letter sheets were issued in 1838.
The first official Postal Stationary
The hobby of collecting Postal Stationery began at the same time as the hobby of stamp collecting itself. It was extremely popular and began almost immediately after 1840, and was exceedingly popular by 1900. Today Postal Stationery is perhaps the fastest growing branch of Philately.
Why Collect Postal Stationery?
The first reason to collect Postal Stationary is the great variety of this kind of philatelic items. They can tell the collectors interesting historical realities as well as make the collection diverse and more valuable. There are ample varieties of stationery to satisfy any collecting interest. Indeed, there are probably as many varieties as there are of adhesives.
Postal Stationary will allow you to enrich your philatelic knowledge and to learn more about the hobby you are involved in. By collecting these items you can got to know much information about different postal systems and services, the postal banking system used in Europe as well as the types and methods of manufacture of cards, printing methods and designs. The size of Postal Stationary will allow studying its items in details and discovering their interesting features.
You should also remember that each stamp collection without Postal Stationary is considered to be incomplete and has less value than the collection with this kind of philatelic items. A topical collector who neglects to include the colorful stationery relating to his topic has left significant gaps in his collection.
The messages on the back of postal cards or letters are invaluable historical documents that can show the style of life of people from various periods of time. Through them one can also trace the changing customs of people, and the increasing use of typewriters; as well as opinions of the writers on an infinite variety of subjects.
Collecting Postal Stationary is sometimes more convenient than the collecting of stamps. Such features of a stamp as missing perforations, centering, and gum sticking can become a problem for a stamp collector and the same time these potential drawbacks are less of a problem when collecting Postal Stationary. Furthermore, the items collected are sturdier and less subject to careless damage than are adhesives.
It should be noticed that lately the value of many Postal Stationary items has increased greatly that is why the collection consisting of them can bring you a fortune. Moreover, one of the advantages of Postal Stationary is that a few forgeries of stationery exist. They are not common and are usually easily detected.
But! Remember that Postal Stationery should be collected for fun; any profit is just a bonus.
How To Collect Postal Stationery
In spite of the fact that there are many advantages of collecting Postal Stationery, a lot of stamp collectors hesitate to start this kind of hobby because of some challenges it presents. For example, it is not common kind of philatelic items that there are fewer dealers of stationery than of adhesives since there is fewer collectors. But if you start to collect Postal Stationary items you will found out that it is sometimes easier than collecting of stamps. Moreover, it is less expensive and sometimes more profitable.
So, one of the best ways to start the collection of Postal Stationary items is to get them from Sales Circuits of the United Postal Stationery Society. Through this circuit the collectors from around the world can share their duplicates for a reasonable price. The other ways to enrich you collection is to turn to the stamp dealer or to exchange some items with other philately lovers.
To begin your Postal Stationary stamp collection one should remember the following rules:
- All stationery should be saved entire. The item is considered more valuable if it contains such features as watermarks, stamps on them etc. Postal cards are never collected as "cut squares" and the modern trend is against collecting envelopes and wrappers that way.
- There are albums for the items of Postal Stationary are available, but since this kind of philatelic items is not so fragile it is not necessary to use one. Moreover, you can make your own albums with a binder of their choice and light cardboard or heavy paper pages. Other philately lovers prefer to use a file.
- The items of Postal Stationary should be kept in a fine condition otherwise they will lose their value. Never use hinges to mount Postal Stationery, as they tend to disfigure the specimens. In this case it is better to use corner mounts. These special working tools are available for collectors in various philatelic stores. When you need to write the catalogue number or other information it should be done only on the back, and very lightly with a soft pencil. On the rare items it is not advisable to write something. In this case it is essentially to band them in thin paper bands on which you can make the necessary notes. In the latter case, one end should be left open, so the air can circulate freely.
- Postal Stationary items can be of two types: mint and used. Mint copies have clean and neat appearance that is why many collectors prefer them. The postally used items are especially interesting due to the postal markings and messages on them. You can choose which of these types to collect. When you like both you can try to obtain a specimen of each.
- Catalogues are as necessary for Postal Stationery as for adhesives. They are the most convenient source of information regarding size and date of issue, size of perforations of letter cards, kind of envelope flaps (called "knives"), design, watermarks, and purpose of issue.
Exhibiting Postal Stationery
It may sound strange to you but the Postal Stationary often attracts more attention than stamps during the exhibition. This phenomenon is explained by the unique and colorful character of the Postal Stationery that pushes the visitors to contemplate them. The audience will definitely show the interest concerning Postal Stationary items so don`t be afraid to exhibit them.
It is not necessary that your collection includes a great number of rare philatelic items. Even without them you can have a winning exhibit. There are many other things which are equally important, such as: skill in presentation, clarity of explanations, and ingenuity in the conception and organization of the exhibit.
You can face the challenges while preparing your collection of Postal Stationary for exhibiting. The main problem is the way of mounting your items with its larger pieces than adhesives, and of writing it up is one that can be learned only by practice, and by studying exhibits of other collectors.
Of course you can arrange your philatelic items in special sections for Postal Stationery, but in any case, exhibits of it frequently win the show awards in competition with adhesives. One of the exceptions of this rule is the annual championship competition known as the Marcus White Memorial Postal Stationery Showcase.
Keeping Up To Date
If you are seriously involved in the hobby of stamp collecting you should be up to date and trace each new issue of Postal Stationary. As a rule, items from this philately branch appear each month. You can join special philatelic organizations or societies to discover more interesting items that perfectly suit your collection.
The largest organization of this kind, and the major world-wide one, is the United Postal Stationery Society, with members throughout the United States and in many foreign countries. This society issues its magazine on the regular basis. These you can find good articles concerning the stationery of many countries. Its Newsletter, The Pantograph of Postal Stationery, also contains stationery information. In addition, the Society publishes catalogs and handbooks on stationery.
The hobby of stamp collecting is very fascinating! So let`s make it more diverse and exquisite by paying interest to the great variety of Postal Stationary items.