The world of philately, or, stamp collecting, is not new. Some of the earliest records of sending a documents or letter (a post) via a courier has taken place in just about every civilization that had writing. Even the Bible refers to such couriers (see Nehemiah 2:7).
While it appears that just about every civilization invented its own version of the post office, the idea was basically the same – getting messages or documents from one person to another. For many centuries there seemed to be a question about who should pay for the delivery, the sender, or the receiver. Back then, it was usually not the sender who paid the bill.
Around 1836, as the story goes, an Englishman, named Rowland Hill saw a courier attempt to deliver a message to a young lady, but she refused to pay for it. He offered to pay for it, but again, she declined. Talking to her after the courier had left, he found out that the lady and her lover, had found a way to communicate basic messages on the outside of the envelope, and not have to pay for them.
This set Rowland Hill’s mind in motion, and he wrote a pamphlet recommending that certain reforms take place in the current letter delivery system. His basic concern was that people should have an equal opportunity to communicate with each other, in England, at a uniform cost – one that the poor could afford, too. He gathered 4 million signatures, and helped pass the legislation that brought about the desired changes. Thus, in 1841, the first gummed postage stamp, was born, and it was called the Penny Black.
Because England’s empire extended around the world at the time, the idea caught on swiftly, and many countries began making their own. Very shortly after this, a man asked people to bring him their canceled stamps – so he could collect them, and philately was born.
Since that time, stamp collecting has become a hobby enjoyed by many all around the world. The hobbyist will find that all the supplies they need – for the occasional hobbyist who enjoys a little diversion, to the professional collector, are available online. Of course, beginner supplies can be easily picked up at most hobby stores.
Philately clubs have been created that cater to all – even clubs for youth, and conferences. Catalogs are available online, and even auctions, similar to e-bay, that caters only to stamp collectors, of course, these are for the serious-minded.