Topical stamp collecting
Topical or thematic stamp collecting
Stamp collecting
Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies, with the number of collectors in the United States alone estimated to be over 20 million.- Collecting :...

 is the collecting of postage stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

s relating to a particular subject or concept. Topics can be almost anything, from stamps on stamps, birds on stamps, to famous physicians, to the history of England.


The earliest stamps simply depicted busts of reigning monarchs, important figures, or coats of arms, but as time went on stamps started to have a wider range of designs. Bears appeared on provisional stamps of St. Louis in 1845, while the beaver was featured on the earliest stamps of Canada. More than 150 years later, the variety of designs on stamps is enormous, giving topical collectors plenty of scope to find stamps for their chosen theme. In fact, so many stamps have been issued that some popular themes, such as "ships" or "birds", have become nearly impossible to complete, and topical collectors may specialize further, such as by looking for only square-rigged sailing ships, or only flightless birds.


Since most types of stamp designs are commonly available and inexpensive, acquiring them is mostly a matter of poring over the stamp catalog
Stamp catalog
A stamp catalog is a catalog of postage stamp types with descriptions and prices.The stamp catalog is an essential tool of philately and stamp collecting...

 looking for relevant types, and learning enough about the topic to recognize subtle connections. The American Topical Association
American Topical Association
The American Topical Association is a US-based philatelic society and the largest organization devoted to topical stamp collecting. It was established in 1949, and currently serves members in over 90 countries. ATA publishes Topical Time, its bimonthly journal...

 and others have published handbooks and lists of larger topics.


Topical collecting is a recognized category for competitive exhibitions and has its own Commission with the FIP (Fédération Internationale de Philatélie
Fédération Internationale de Philatélie
The Fédération Internationale de Philatélie was founded on June 18, 1926 and is the world federation for philately based in Zürich, Switzerland.- Aims :The primary aims of the FIP are:*To promote stamp collecting and philately....


Some popular topics

  • Birds on stamps
  • Fish on stamps
  • Insects on stamps
    Insects on stamps
    Almost every country has featured insects on stamps. Insect related topics such as the mosquito eradication programme of the 1960s as well as graphic designs based on insects have also appeared.-External links:*****...

  • People on stamps
    • Presidents on stamps
      U.S. Presidents on U.S. postage stamps
      For more than 160 years the one subject that has appeared most frequently on the face of U.S. Postage stamps is that of American Presidents. When the U.S. Post Office released its first two postage stamps in 1847, George Washington, along with Benjamin Franklin, were the two subjects depicted on...

  • Ships on stamps
  • Space exploration on stamps
    U.S. space exploration history on U.S. stamps
    With the advent of unmanned and manned space flight a whole new era of American history had presented itself. Keeping with the tradition of honoring the country's history on the face of U.S. postage stamps, the U.S. Post Office began honoring the various events with its commemorative postage stamp...

  • Stamps on stamps
    Stamps on stamps
    Stamps on stamps is a philatelic term for depicting images of postage stamps on postage stamps. Some postage stamp collectors have specialized in collecting stamps on stamps as a topical collection....

Stamps on an anarchist theme were issued during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 by the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo is a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions affiliated with the International Workers Association . When working with the latter group it is also known as CNT-AIT...


Further reading

External links

Websites for particular themes

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