Publication 225 - The Art of Stamp Collecting
PSN 7610-02-000-7089


Stamp collecting can be a lifetime hobby. It‘s fun and educational for all ages and it‘s easy to start your own collection without a big investment. Read on to find out how you can start or build your very own collection.

The study of stamps and postal materials is called philately and collectors are sometimes called philatelists.

How do I start collecting stamps?

It‘s easy. You can start by simply saving stamps from letters, packages, and postcards. Ask your friends and family to save stamps from their mail. Neighborhood businesses that get a lot of mail—banks, stores, travel agencies—might save their envelopes for you too.

Or you can start your own collection by choosing one or two of your favorite subjects. Many beginning collectors choose a subject like art, history, sports, transportation, science or animals as the theme of their collection. This is called topical collecting. See the stamps pictured on this page as examples of the many topics you can collect.

Will it cost me a lot to start a collection?

No! Start with used stamps and you can have a great time on a limited budget with just a few inexpensive accessories such as an album and stamp hinges.

What kinds of stamps are there?

There are a number of different types of stamps. Their purposes can be described as commemorative, definitive, and special; their formats can be in sheets, booklets, or coils. Stamps may be conventional adhesive (“lick-and-stick”) or self-adhesive (“no-lick, peel-and-stick”).

Definitive stamps (also called “regular issues”) are the most common type of postage. Generally less than an inch square, they are printed in large quantities, and often more than once. Their denominations can range from 1¢ to $14. Definitives are usually available for several years, since they‘re printed in large quantities for specific postal rates.

Commemorative stamps, larger and more colorful than definitives, are printed in smaller quantities and typically only once. They honor people, events, or subjects of importance to American life and culture. They remain on sale for a limited period of time, generally about a year; many post offices carry them for only a few months. The U.S. Postal Service‘s Philatelic Fulfillment Center also offers commemorative stamps by mail order for about one year after they are issued.

Special stamps supplement each year‘s regular stamp issues. They include Holiday Celebrations, Christmas, Love, international rate, Priority Mail, and Express Mail. They also are usually on sale for only a limited time.

Booklet stamps are designed to be folded into a convenient unit. They come in small folders that contain panes of 3 to 20 stamps each. Gummed booklet stamps have at least one straight edge.

Coil stamps are issued in rolls. Each coil has two straight edges and two edges with either slit-like cuts or holes called perforations.

How do I remove stamps from an envelope?

If you wish you can save whole envelopes with stamps on them and store them anywhere—from shoe boxes to special albums. But if you want to remove stamps from envelopes it pays to be very careful. Soaking is the best way to remove stamps from envelopes.

Here‘s how:

  1. Tear or cut off the envelope around the stamp, leaving a small margin.
  2. With the stamp facing down, place into a pan of warm, not hot, water. After a few minutes (self-adhesive gum may take longer), the stamp should sink to the bottom.
  3. Wait a few more minutes for any remaining gum to dislodge from the stamp.
  4. Lift the stamp out preferably using stamp tongs (a metal tool, like tweezers.) It is best to handle stamps with tongs because the oil from your skin can damage stamps.
  5. Place the stamp between two paper towels and put a heavy object, such as a book, on top. This will keep the stamp from curling as it dries. Leave overnight.
  6. If the stamp is a newer one with “invisible” gum, dry it face down with nothing touching the back and flatten it later if necessary. Otherwise, it may stick to the paper towel when drying.

How should I organize my stamps?

However you want to of course—it‘s your collection.

But be sure to protect them so they don‘t get damaged or lost. You can attach your stamps to loose-leaf paper and put them in a three-ring binder. Or, the best way is to store them in a stamp album which you can buy in stores.

How do I put a stamp in the album?

It‘s best to use a stamp hinge—a small strip of thin plastic with gum on one side. Unlike tape or glue, hinges allow you to peel the stamp off the page without damaging it. Hinges come either folded or unfolded.

Here‘s how to use a folded hinge:

  1. Moisten the short end of the hinge lightly. Press it to the back of the stamp, placing the fold about 1/8” from the top of the stamp.
  2. Place the stamp in the album and press down to secure it.
  3. Using your tongs, gently lift the corners of the stamp to make sure it‘s not stuck to the page.

Instead of a stamp hinge, you can insert the entire stamp into a stamp mount—a small, clear plastic sleeve. Mounts are more expensive than hinges, but they protect stamps from air, dirt and moisture.

Is there anything else I need?

Collectors use a variety of other materials and accessories. Transparent glassine envelopes protect stamps from grease and air. A stamp catalog is a reference book with illustrations and stamp values, such as The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps. A magnifying glass is useful when examining stamps; tongs are used to pick up and move stamps. A perforation gauge measures perforations along the edges of stamps.

Watermark fluid will enhance a watermark, a design or pattern that is pressed into some stamp paper during manufacturing.

How can I tell what a stamp is worth?

When figuring the value of a stamp, ask yourself two questions: “How rare is it?” and “What condition is it in?” Stamp catalog prices will give you an idea of how rare the stamp is. However, the stamp may sell at more or less than the catalog price, depending on its condition. Stamp dealers categorize stamps according to their condition. Always try to find stamps in the best possible condition.

Hinge marks on mint stamps can reduce value, which is why stamp mounts are recommended for mint stamps.

How should I judge the condition of a stamp?

Stamp dealers put stamps into categories according to their condition. A stamp in (unused) mint condition is the same as when purchased from the Post Office. A used stamp is one that has been canceled.

To evaluate the condition of a stamp, first look at the front of it. Are the colors bright or faded? Is the stamp clean, dirty, or stained? Is it torn or creased? Torn stamps are not considered “collectible,” but they can be used as space fillers until you get better ones. Is the stamp design centered on the paper, crooked or off to one side? Centering can range from “superb” (perfectly centered on the stamp) to “good” (the design on at least one side is marred somewhat by the perfs). Anything less would be graded “fair” or “poor” and, like torn copies, should be saved only as space fillers. Centering varies widely on older stamps. An examination of the back of the stamp will reveal whether it has been carelessly treated and thus is less valuable. Are all of the perforations intact? Has the stamp been canceled? A stamp with a light cancellation is in better condition than one with heavy marks across it.

See examples of these categories pictured on the next page.

Where else can I find stamps?

Check the classified ads in philatelic newspapers and magazines at your local library. There is a listing of philatelic resources on page 19 of this publication where you increase your knowledge of collecting stamps. You can also check the listing of philatelic publishers in The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps. These publishers will send you one free copy of their publication then you can decide if you‘d like to subscribe. There are also a number of stamp-related sites on the internet.

What other stamp materials can I collect?

Postal stationery products are popular among philatelists. These have the stamp designs printed or embossed (printed with a raised design) directly on them.

Stamped Envelopes were first issued in 1853. More than 600 million of them are now printed each year.

Stamped Cards (or postal cards) were first issued in 1873. The first multicolored commemorative postal cards came out in 1956. Several different stamped cards are issued every year.

Aerogrammes (air letters) are designed to be letters and envelopes all in one. They are specially stamped, marked for folding and already gummed.

Other philatelic collectibles include:

Plate numbers (including plate blocks) appear on or adjacent to stamps. Found most often on sheet stamps, plate blocks are the stamps—usually a group of 4—that have the printing plate numbers in the adjoining selvage, or margin.

Booklet panes are panes of stamps affixed in, or as part of, a thin folder to form a booklet. With self-adhesive stamps, a newer convertible booklet format has been created so that the stamps, liner and booklet are all on one unit. Collectors of booklet panes usually save the entire pane or booklet.

Marginal blocks (including copyright blocks) feature marginal inscriptions other than plate numbers. The most common is the copyright block, which features the copyright symbol, copyright date, and U.S. Postal Service. All U.S. stamp designs since 1978 are copyrighted.

First Day of Issue Ceremony Programs are given to those who attend first day ceremonies. They contain a list of participants, information on the stamp subject, and the actual stamp attached and postmarked in a handsomely designed folder.

First Day Covers (FDCs) are envelopes bearing new stamps postmarked on the first day of sale. For each new issuance, the U.S. Postal Service generally selects one location, usually related to the stamp subject, as the place for the first day dedication ceremony and the first day postmark.

Are there any stamp groups I can join?

Yes! Stamp clubs are a great source for new stamps and stamp collecting advice. Ask your local postmaster or librarian about stamp clubs in your area and contact information including Internet sites.

How do I collect First Day Covers?

The fastest way to get a First Day Cover is to buy the stamp yourself (it will usually go on sale the day after the first day of issue), attach it to your own envelope (or cover), and send it to the first day post office for cancellation. You can submit up to 50 envelopes, up to 30 days after the stamp‘s issue date.

Here‘s how:

  1. Write your address in the lower right-hand corner of each first day envelope, at least 5/8” from the bottom. Leave plenty of room for the stamp(s) and cancellation. Use a peel-off label if you prefer.
  2. Insert a piece of cardboard (about as thick as a postcard) into each envelope. You can tuck the flap in or seal the envelope.
  3. Affix your stamp(s) to your first day envelope(s).
  4. Put your first day envelope(s) inside another, larger envelope and mail it to “Customer-Affixed Envelopes” in care of the postmaster of the first day city. Your envelopes will be canceled and returned.

Or, you can purchase a plain envelope with the stamp(s) already affixed and canceled. These are now sold directly by mail order through the U.S. Postal Service.

Digital Color Postmark First Day Covers

Since 2005, some cancellations are now being created as beautiful miniature works of art specifically designed for each stamp. These collectibles can be purchased as sets for each year. Products can be ordered by calling 1 800 STAMP-24 or online at

American Commemorative Collectibles

Here are additional philatelic products to add to your collection

Standing Order Program

Mix and match Stamps, First Day Covers, Stationery, Uncut Press Sheets tailored to your own specific taste in quantities that you choose.

American Commemorative Collection

Collect and learn about people, anniversaries, places and events with detailed stories and the stamps are mounted in a protective stamp mount.

American Commemorative Panels

Obtain photo or steel engravings, mint condition stamps in acetate mounts and subject related text presented on a beautifully designed page.

American Commemorative Cancellations

Get official first day of issue cancellations and stamp(s) affixed to sheets featuring technical and historical information about the stamps.

Digital Color Postmark Program

Now you can have First Day Covers cancelled with wonderfully colorful Digital Color Postmarks customized to match the stamps that are issued.

For information on more philatelic products call 1 800 STAMP-24

Glossary of Stamp Collecting Words and Phrases


The tools used by stamp collectors, such as tongs, hinges, etc.


Air letters designed to be letters and envelopes all in one. They are specially stamped and ready for folding.


Stamp collecting that focuses on airmail stamps or postage.


A book designed to hold stamps and covers.


Stamps sent by a dealer to a collector for examination. Approvals must either be bought or returned to the dealer within a specified time.


A group of unseparated stamps, at least two stamps high and two stamps wide.

Booklet Pane

A small sheet of stamps specially cut to be sold in booklets.


A marketplace, such as a stamp exhibition, where stamps are bought, sold, or exchanged.

Cachet (ka-shay )

A stamp related design on an envelope.


A mark placed on a stamp by a postal authority to show that the stamp has been used.


The position of the design on a postage stamp. On perfectly centered stamps the design is exactly in the middle.


Any stamp-like label without an official postal value.


An early stamp issue.


Stamps issued in rolls (one stamp wide) for use in dispensers or vending machines.

Coil Stamps

Stamps that are produced in a long vertical or horizontal strip.


Stamps that honor anniversaries, important people, special events, or aspects of national culture.

Compound Perforations

Different gauge perforations on different sides (normally adjacent) of a single stamp.


Condition is the most important characteristic in determining the value of a stamp. It refers to the state of a stamp regarding such details as centering, color and gum.


An envelope that has been sent through the mail.

Cracked Plate

A term used to describe stamps which show evidence that the plate from which they were printed was cracked.


Regular issues of postage stamps, usually sold over long periods of time. They tend to be fairly small and printed in large quantities often more than once.


The postage value appearing on a stamp.

Die Cut

Scoring of self-adhesive stamps that allows a stamp to be separated from the liner.

Directory Markings

Postal markings that indicate a failed delivery attempt, stating reasons such as “No Such Number” or “Address Unknown.”

Double Transfer

The condition on a printing plate that shows evidence of a duplication of all or part of the design.


Extra copies of stamps that can be sold or traded. Duplicates should be examined carefully for color and perforation variations.


An intact piece of postal stationery, in contrast to a cut-out of the printed design.


A stamp with something incorrect in its design or manufacture.

Face Value

The monetary value, or denomination, of a stamp.


A genuine stamp that has been altered in some way to make it more attractive to collectors. It may be repaired, reperfed, or regummed to resemble a more valuable variety.

First Day Cover (FDC)

An envelope or card bearing a stamp cancelled to show its issuance date and place.

First Day Ceremony Program

A program given to those who attend first day of issue stamp ceremonies. It contains the actual stamp affixed and postmarked, a list of participants and information on the stamp subject.

Foreign Entry

When original transfers are erased incompletely from a plate, they can appear with new transfers of a different design which are subsequently entered on the plate.


Written, hand-stamped, or imprinted markings on the face of a cover indicating that it is carried free of postage. Franking is usually limited to official government correspondence.


An abnormal variety of a stamp occurring because of paper fold, over-inking, perforation shift, etc., as opposed to a continually appearing variety or an error.


A pattern of small, square pyramids in parallel rows impressed or embossed on the stamp to break paper fibers, allowing cancellation ink to soak in and preventing washing and reuse.


The coating of glue on the back of a stamp.


Small strips of gummed material used by some collectors to affix stamps to album pages.


An image that appears to be three-dimensional when viewed from an angle. Holograms have appeared on some modern stamps and stationery.


Indicates stamps without perforations.

Laid Paper

When held to the light, the paper shows alternate light and dark crossed lines.

Line Pairs (LP)

Most coil stamp rolls prior to 1981 feature a line of ink (known as a “joint line”) printed between two stamps at various intervals, caused by the joining of two or more curved plates around the printing cylinder.


The backing paper for self-adhesive stamps.


A magnifying glass used to examine details of stamps more closely.

On Paper

Stamps “on paper” are those that still have portions of the original envelope or wrapper attached.


Additional printing on a stamp that was not part of the original design.


A presorted group of different stamps, a common and economical way to begin a stamp collection.


A full “sheet” of stamps as sold by a Post Office.

Par Avion

French for mail trans-ported “by air.”


Stamps with a picture of some sort, other than portraits or static designs such as coats of arms.


Lines of small holes or cuts between stamps that make them easy to separate.

Perforation Gauge

A tool used to measure perforations along the edges of stamps or the distance between peaks or ridges.


The collection and study of postage stamps and other postal materials.

Plate Block (PB) (or Plate Number Block)

A block of stamps with the margin attached that bears the plate number used in printing that sheet.

Plate Number Coils (PNC)

For most coil stamp rolls beginning with #1891, a small plate number appears at varying intervals in the roll in the design of the stamp.

Postal Stationery

Envelopes, aerogrammes, stamped postal cards, and letter sheets with printed or embossed stamp designs.

Postal Cards

See “stamped postal cards.”


Commercially-produced mailable cards without imprinted postage.


A mark put on envelopes or other mailing pieces showing the date and location of mailing.


Stamps cancelled by a proper authority prior to their use on mail.

Presort Stamp

A discounted stamp used by business mailers who presort their mail.

Prestige Booklet

A booklet commemorating a special topic and containing stamps, narrative, and images.


An official reprinting of a stamp that was no longer being printed.


A stamp printed from the original plate after the issue is no longer valid for postage. Official reprints are sometimes made for presentation purposes, official collections, etc., and are often distinguished in some way from the “real” ones.

Revenue Stamps

Stamps issued as proof of payment of certain taxes but not valid for postage.


The piercing of the paper between stamps to facilitate their separation, often giving the appearance of a series of dashes.

Scrambled Indicia ®

A patented process that conceals encoded text or graphics within the visible design. These hidden images can only be viewed through a special lens, the Stamp Decoder™, available from the U.S. Postal Service.


An attached pair, strip or block of stamps that differ in design, value or surcharge.

Self-Adhesive Stamp

A stamp with pressure sensitive adhesive.


The paper around panes of stamps, sometimes called the margin.

Semipostal Stamp

A First-Class Mail stamp priced to include an additional charge earmarked for a specific purpose, e.g., breast cancer research.


A number of individual stamps or sets of stamps having a common purpose or theme, issued over an extended period of time (generally a year or more), including all variations of design and/or denomination.


A group of stamps with a common design or theme issued at one time for a common purpose or over a limited period of time (generally less than a year).

Souvenir Sheet

A small sheet of stamps with a commemorative inscription.

Special Issues

Stamps with a commemorative appearance that supplement definitives and meet specific needs. These include Christmas, Love, Holiday Celebrations, airmail, Express Mail, and Priority Mail stamps.


A stamp or issue released primarily for sale to collectors, rather than to meet any legitimate postal need.

Stamp Decoder™

A device with a special lens that reveals hidden images on stamps. It is available from the U.S. Postal Service.

Stamped Postal Card

The current term for a mailable card with postage imprinted on it.

Stamped Envelope

A mailable envelope with postage embossed or imprinted on it.

Star Route

A mail route serviced by an outside contractor rather than a postal employee.


Three or more unseparated stamps in a row.


An overprint that changes the denomination of a stamp.


A closed box with a grill over which stuck-together unused stamps are placed. A wet, sponge-like material under the grill creates humidity so the stamps can be separated without removing the gum.


The marking of stamps with a phosphor or similar coating (which may be in lines, bars, letters, overall design area or entire stamp surface), done by many countries for use with automatic mail-handling equipment. When a stamp is issued both with and without this marking, catalogs will often note varieties as “tagged” or “untagged.”

Tied On

Describes a stamp whose postmark touches the envelope.


A tweezer-like tool with rounded or flattened tips used to handle stamps.


A group of stamps with the same theme—space travel, for example.


A stamp without hinge marks.


The condition of a stamp that has no cancellation or other sign of use.


The condition of a stamp that has been canceled.


A stamp that varies in some way from its standard or original form. Varieties can include missing colors or perforations, constant plate flaws, changes in ink or paper, differences in printing method or in format.


A design sometimes pressed into stamp paper during its manufacture.

Water-Activated Gum

Water-soluble adhesives such as sugar-based starches on the back of an unused stamp.

U.S. Postal Service Listing of Stamp Series

Add more fun to your hobby by collecting stamps that belong to one of these many exciting stamp series.

You can find a complete listing of each series in “The Postal Service Guide to U.S. Stamps.”

First Pictorial
Columbia Exposition
American Revolution Sesquicentennial
National Parks
Army Navy
Famous Americans
Win the War
Overrun Countries
National Capital Sesquicentennial
Wildlife Conservation
Champion of Liberty
American Credo
Civil War Centennial
Prominent Americans
American Folklore
American Bicentennial
National Parks Centennial
Black Heritage
American Arts
Rural America
American Folk Art
Performing Arts
Literary Arts
Love Stamped Envelopes
Nature of America
Legends of Hollywood
Lunar New Year
Great Americans
American Culture
American Design
American Treasures
American Sports Personalities
Distinguished Americans
Celebrate The Century ®
World War II
Ratification of the Constitution
Pioneers of Aviation
Garden Flowers
Looney Tunes
American Scenes
American Transportation
Classic Collections
Scenic American Landscapes
Scenic America Stamped Cards
Historic Preservation Stamped Cards
Legends of American Music
Classical Composers & Conductors
Folk Musicians
Hollywood Composers
Broadway Songwriters
Art of Disney
Official Mail
Official Envelopes
Official Mail Postal Cards
Olympic Games
Holiday Celebrations:
Holiday Celebrations

Organizations, Publications and Resources

Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope when writing to these organizations.

American Air Mail Society

Rudy Roy
PO Box 5367
Virginia Beach, VA 23471-0367
(p) 757/499-5234
Specializes in all phases of aerophilately.

American First Day Cover Society

PO Box 16277
Tucson, AZ 85732-6277
(p) 520/321-0880

Contact Doug Kelsey, Executive Director

A full-service, not-for-profit, society devoted exclusively to First Day Covers and First Day Cover collecting.

American Ceremony Program Society

John E. Peterson
ACPS Secretary/Treasurer
6987 Coleshill Drive
San Diego, CA 92119-1953

The American Ceremony Program Society is a place to learn about First Day and Supplemental stamp Ceremonies and Ceremony Programs.

American Philatelic Society

Peter Mastrangelo
Department PG
100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823-1367
(p) 814/933-3803
(f) 814/933-6128

America's national stamp society. Membership benefits include various

publications, services, and more. Sponsors national stamp exhibitions annually in partnership with the ASDA and USPS.

American Society for Philatelic Pages and Panels

Gerald Blankenship
PO Box 475
Crosby, TX 77532-0475
(p) 281/324-2709

The only society with a focus on commemorative cancellations (formerly souvenir pages) and commemorative panels.

American Stamp Dealers Association

Jim Roselle
3 School St., Suite 205
Glen Cove, NY 11542-2548
(p) 516/759-7000
(f) 516/759-7014

Association of dealers engaged in every facet of philately, with 6 regional chapters nationwide . Will send you a complete listing of dealers in your area or collecting specialty.

American Topical Association

Ray Cartier
Executive Director
PO Box 57
Arlington, TX 76004-0057
(p) 817/274-1181
(f) 817/274-1184

A service organization concentrating on the specialty of topical stamp collecting. Offers handbooks and checklists on specific topics and services.

Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections

Manuel Gilyard, President
PO Box 1757
Lincolnton Station
New York, NY 10037-1757
(p) 212-928-5165
(f) 212-928-1477

Mailer‘s Postmark Permit Club

Charles F. Myers
Central Office
PO Box 3
Portland, TN 37148-0003
(p) 615/325-9478

Publishes bimonthly newsletter, Permit Patter, which covers all aspects of mailer‘s postmark permits.

Plate Number Coil Collectors Club

Ronald E. Maifeld
PO Box 54622
Cincinnati, OH 45254-0622

The Plate Number Coil Collectors Club (PNC3) is an organization that studies the plate numbers and plate varieties of United States coil stamps issued since 1981. The PNC3 publishes a monthly newsletter, Coil Line.

Postal History Society

Kalman V. Illyefalvi
869 Bridgewater Drive
New Oxford, PA 17350-8206
(p) 717/624-5941

Devoted to the study of various aspects of the development of the mails and local, national and international postal systems; UPU treaties; and means of transporting mail.

The Souvenir Card Collectors Society, Inc.

Dana M. Marr
PO Box 4155
Tulsa, OK 74159-0155
(p) 918/664-6724

Provides member auctions, a quarterly journal and access to limited-edition souvenir cards.

Spring-Ford Philatelic Society

First United Church of Christ
145 Chestnut St.
Spring City, PA 19475-1804
(p) 610/970-5408

Meeting the last Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m.

United Postal Stationery Society

UPSS Central Office
Bob Wilderman
PO Box 3982
Chester, VA 23831-8473

The UPSS is the largest society devoted to the collecting and study of postal stationery, postal cards, envelopes, letter sheets and other postal products having the stamp already printed on it.

19th Century Envelopes
20th Century Envelopes
U.S. Postal Card Catalog
U.S. Specimens: Stamped Envelopes and Wrappers
Transitive Relationship to Family Tree of Proofs
Contemporary Account of the 1st U.S. Postal Card
U.S. Commemorative Stamped Envelopes, 1867-1965
U.S. Envelope Essays and Proofs Canal Zone Postal Stationery
Universal Ship Cancellation Society

Steve Shay
747 Shard Court
Fremont, CA 94539-7419

Specializes in naval ship postmarks and cachets.

U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services

1735 N. Lynn St, 5th Floor, Room 5018
Arlington, VA 22209-6432

U.S. Stamp Society

Executive Secretary
PO Box 6634
Katy, TX 77491-6634

An association of collectors to promote the study of all postage and revenue stamps and stamped paper of the United States and U.S.-administered areas produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and other contract printers.

Durland Plate Number Catalog


American Philatelic Expertizing Service (APEX)

Mercer Bristow
Director of Expertizing
100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823-1367
(p) 814/933-3803
(f) 814/933-6128

Krystal Harter
Expertizing Coordinator
(p) 814/933-3803
(f) 814/933-6128

A service of the American Philatelic Society, APEX utilizes the outstanding reference collections at APS headquarters in conjunction with the nation's best philatelic scholars to pass judgement on the identification, authenticity and condition of stamps from around the world.

Philatelic Foundation

Attention: Chairman
George J. Kramer
70 W 40th Street 15th Flr.
New York, NY 10018-2615
(p) 212/221-6555
(f) 212/221-6208

A nonprofit organization known for its expertization service. Their broad resources, provide collectors with comprehensive consumer protection. Book series include expertizing case histories in Opinions, Foundation seminar subjects in “textbooks” and specialized U.S. subjects in monographs.

Professional Stamp Experts

PO Box 6170
Newport Beach, CA 92658-6170
(p) 877/782-6788

Organization specializing in identification, expertization and grading of U.S. Postage Stamps, Covers, Revenues etc. PSE publishes a Guide to the Grading of U.S. Stamps and The Stamp Market Quarterly Price Guide. Either is free upon request.


The following publications will send you a free copy of their magazine or newspaper upon request.

Global Stamp News

PO Box 97
Sidney, OH 45365-0097
(p) 937/492-3183

America‘s largest-circulation monthly stamp magazine featuring U.S. and foreign issues.

Linn‘s Stamp News

PO Box 29
Sidney, OH 45365-0029
(p) 937/498-0801
(f) 937/498-0876
(f) 888/340-8388 (toll free)

Linn‘s Stamp News, the world‘s largest weekly stamp newspaper, contains breaking news stories of major importance to stamp collectors. A sample copy of the weekly news-paper is available upon request.

Linn‘s U.S. Stamp Yearbook

(p) 937/498-0802
(f) 800/572-6885 (US only)
(f) 937/498-0807 (outside US)

Linn‘s World Stamp Almanac

Stamp Collecting Made Easy

Mekeel‘s & Stamps Magazine-fa

John Dunn
42 Sentry Way
Merrimack, NH 03054-4407

Weekly magazine for collectors of U.S. & worldwide stamps & covers.

U.S. Stamp News-fb

42 Sentry Way
Merrimack, NH 03054-4407

Monthly magazine for all collectors of U.S. stamps, covers and postal history.

Stamp Fulfillment Services

U.S. Postal Service
8300 NE Underground Dr
Pillar 210
Kansas City, MO 64144-0001
(p) 1-800-STAMP-24

Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers

PO Box 828
Sidney, OH 45365-0828
(p) 937/498-0831
(p) 800/572-6885
(f) 937/498-0807

Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue

Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue: Stamps and Covers of the World including U.S., 1840-1940

(British Commonwealth to 1952)

Scott Stamp Monthly

Museums, Libraries and Displays

American Philatelic Research Library

100 Match Factory Place
Bellefonte, PA 16823-1367
(p) 814/933-3803
(f) 814/933-6128

The largest philatelic library in the US, the APRL receives more than 400 periodicals, and houses extensive collections of philatelic literature.

The Collectors Club

Irene Bromberg
Executive Secretary
22 E. 35th Street
New York, NY 10016-3806
(p) 212/683-0559
(f) 212/481-1269

Bimonthly journal, publication of various reference works, one of the most extensive reference libraries in the world, reading and study rooms.

National Postal Museum

Office of the Director
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Ave, NE
Washington, D.C. 20013-0570
(p) 202/633-5502

National Postal Museum houses more than 16 million items for exhibition and study purposes. Collections research may be conducted separately or jointly with library materials. Call the museum or its library (202/633-9370) to schedule an appointment.

The Postal History Foundation

Betsy Towle
PO Box 40725
Tucson, AZ 85717-0725
(p) 520/623-6652
(f) 520/623-6652
Hours: M-F 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Foundation has a world class collection of postal history information and artifacts and is a pioneer in its provision of youth philatelic education programs. It offers museum tours, research library, USPS contract post office, philatelic sales, archives and stamp collections.

San Diego County Philatelic Library

Al Kish, Library Manager
7403C Princess View Dr.
San Diego, CA 92120-1345
(p) 619/229-8813
Hours: Mon. 1 p.m.–4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.–9 p.m., Tues. 5 p.m.–8 p.m., Wed. 1 p.m.–9 p.m., Thurs. 6 p.m.– 9 p.m., Sat. 9 p.m.–3 p.m. Closed Fri. and Sun.

Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History

Edward S. Sternick, Ph.D.
Executive Director
235 Wellesley Street
Weston, MA 02493-1538
(p) 781/768-8367
(f) 781/768-7332

America‘s first fully accredited museum devoted to the display, collection and preservation of stamps and postal history. Exhibitions feature rarities, U.S., and worldwide collections. Philatelic library and family activity center open with admission.

Western Philatelic Library

PO Box 2219
Sunnyvale, CA 94087-2219
(p) 408/733-0336

Friends of the Western Philatelic Library
Wineburgh Philatelic Research Library

Special Collections Dept.
Erik D. Carlson, Ph.D.
McDermott Library
The University of Texas at Dallas
PO Box 830643
Mailstation: MC33
Richardson, TX 75083-0643
(p) 972/883-2570
Hours: M-Th 9 a.m.–6 p.m.;
Fri 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Exchange Service

Stamp Master

Charles Bergeron
PO Box 17
Putnam Hall, FL 32185-0017

An “electronic connection” for philatelists via computer to display/review members‘ stamp inventories for trading purposes, etc.


ArtCraft First Day Cover Price List

Washington Press
2 Vreeland Road
Florham Park, NJ 07932-1501
(p) 877/966-0001 (toll free)
Includes Presidential Inaugural covers.

Legends of the West Washington Press

How some collectors struck it rich!

The Inverted Jenny

A Dream Come True.

Operation HUSH – HUSH

How the Project Mercury Stamp was Planned and Issued.

The Hammarskjold Invert

Tells the story of the Dag Hammarskjold error/invert.

The U.S. Transportation Coils

How some collectors struck it rich!

The White Ace Album Format Guide

A Listing of Stamps Required for The 2003 United States White Ace Album Supplements. Free.

Brookman‘s 1st Edition Black Heritage First Day Cachet Cover Catalog

Arlene Dunn
Brookman/Barrett & Worthen
10 Chestnut Drive
Bedford, NH 03110-5566
(p) 603/472-5575
(f) 603/472-8795
Illustrated 176-page perfect bound book.

Brookman‘s 2nd Edition Price Guide for Disney Stamps

Illustrated 256-page perfect bound book.

2005 Brookman Price Guide of U.S., and Canada Stamps and Postal Collectibles

Illustrated 384-page perfect and spiral bound catalog.

Postmark Advisory

Paul Brenner
General Image, Inc.
PO Box 335
Maplewood, NJ 07040-0335

There is also a web site announcing these postmarks. The address is:

This site is updated twice a month.

(How-to-do-it is excellent for beginners)

A weekly newsletter is available which provides descriptive information on U.S. pictorial postmarks. A free sample is available.

Fleetwood‘s Standard First Day Cover Catalog

Unicover Corporation
1 Unicover Center
Cheyenne, WY 82008-0001
(p) 307/771-3238
(p) 800/443-3232 (toll free)
(f) 307/771-3134

Precancel Stamp Society Catalogs

Dick Laetsch
3 Shady Creek Lane
Scarborough, ME 04074-8480
(p) 207/883-2505

Precancel approvals available.

Stamp Collecting Made Easy

Amos Hobby Publishing Co.
PO Box 828
Sidney, OH 045365-0097
(p) 937/498-0807
(p) 800/572-6885
(f) 937/498-0807
An illustrated, easy-to-read, 96-page booklet for beginning collectors.

The U.S. Postal Service: An American History, Pub. 100

United States Postal Service
475 L‘Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260-0012
(p) 202/268-2507

Tells the history of the U.S. Postal Service from 1775 to the present. One free copy.

Sources of Historical Information on Post Offices, Postal Employees, Mail Routes and Mail Contractors, Pub. 119

Lists all known federal sources of information on topics covered in the title. One free copy.


Max Stern
234 Flinders Street
Box 997 H
GPO Melbourne 3001

Canada Post
2701 Riverside Dr.
Suite N0420

Ottawa ON K1A 0B1
China National Philatelic Corporation
14, Taipinghu Dongli, Xicheng District
Beijing, 100031

DK 5450 Otterup

Georg Roll Stamps LTD
Hafenstrasse 8
D-26931 Elsfleth
Hermann Sieger GMBH
Venusberg 32-34
D73545 Lorch Wurttemberg

Hongkong Post
1706-7, ING Tower
308-320 Des Voeux Road Central
Sheung Wan

Alberto Bolaffi
Via Cavour 17
10123 Torino

Japan Philatelic Agency
PO Box 96 Toshima
Tokyo 170-8668

TPG Post
Prinses Beatrixlann 23
P O Box 30250
2500 GC The Hague

Philagroup, S. L.
Manuel Tovar, 1, 4 izda
28034 Madrid

International House of Stamps
98/2 Soi Tonson
Langsuan Rd
Lumpinee, Pathumwan
Bangkok 10330

Harry Allen
PO Box 5
Watford Herts WD2 5SW

Philatelic Centers

The Postal Service also maintains Philatelic Centers located in many areas to serve stamp collectors with an extensive range of philatelic products.

Call 800-275-8777 or visit us online at

Credits and Acknowledgments

The Art of Stamp Collecting was produced by Government Relations and Public Policy, Stamp Services, U.S. Postal Service.

John E. Potter
Postmaster General and
Chief Executive Officer

Marie Therese Dominguez
Senior Vice President, Government Relations

David E. Failor
Executive Director,
Stamp Services

Terrence W. McCaffrey
Stamp Development

Cindy Tackett
Stamp Products and Exhibitions

Sonja D. Edison
Project Manager and Editor

Editorial Services

PhotoAssist, Inc.
Regina Swygert-Smith
7735 Old Georgetown Rd
Bethesda, MD 20814

Design Services

Design, Production and Project Manager
Roberta Wojtkowski Design
10992 Thrush Ridge Road
Reston, VA 20191

Digital Services

Journey Group, Inc.
418 Fourth St., NE
Charlottesville, Va 22902

Publication 225
©2007 U.S. Postal Service
PSN 7610-02-000-7089

Printed in the United States of America

The designs of stamps and postal stationary issued since January 1, 1978 are the subject of individual copyrights by the U.S, Postal Service.