Stamp Collecting – Discover What and How to Collect

If you’re new to stamp collecting, we’ll help you which type is the best for you to discover what and how to collect.

If you’re here, you’re deciding or already decided to collect stamps. And even though I always say that each philatelist collects as he/she pleases, it’s good to have at least a notion of what most philatelists like to collect. So, let’s say that the first step as a philatelist is to discover what and how to collect!

Discover What and How to Collect in Philately

These are some of the most popular ways philatelists collect their stamps.

discover what and how to collect

Traditional philately

In traditional philately, you study and understand stamps themselves. The parts of the postage stamp, analyze watermarks, learn how stamps are printed and other technical aspects.

In stamp collecting, it was really common to collect worldwide stamps -as many as you could- but when countries started printing dozens or hundreds of issues per year, things got complicated. Nowadays it’s more common to collect per country (and not all of them) and sometimes just periods of time for specific countries. This lets the philatelist have more time and resources to investigate in depth.

discover what and how to collect

Topical or thematic philately

Many philatelists collect topical stamps. Why? Because unlike traditional philately, topical or thematic philately lets you collect the topics you like (cars, birds, sports). It can be as wide or specific as you like. You can arrange your stamps to tell a story or just accumulate them in stock books.

discover what and how to collect

Postal history

One of the coolest aspects of stamp collecting is that stamps -or covers in this case- can tell a story of their journey since they arrived at the post office until they reached their final destination. Did it had to be on transit in one or more countries? Did it get lost and arrived at the wrong country? Was the letter inspected by censorship officials during WWI or WWII?

There are lots of things to discover and study in postal history: commerce routes, political conflicts, local train or boat routes, customs procedures and many other aspects.

discover what and how to collect

Postal stationery

It was a matter of time that after stamps there was going to be pre-paid postcards and covers. And guess what? Those can be collected too.

discover what and how to collect


Stamps themselves are incredibly interesting. Even more interesting are stamps with errors. This is a very popular branch of philately, since errors are hard to find and sometimes require further analysis to discover.

discover what and how to collect


Another type of stamp collecting that’s winning new adepts nowadays is collecting stamps by their shape. Squares, rectangles, circles, diamond and triangles from all over the world are being collected more and more.

discover what and how to collect

Forgeries or fake stamps

There’s no doubt that stamps are awesome and great to collect. As expensive stamps started to rise among the regular stamps, some philatelist or printers saw a great way of earning big chunks of money: making forgeries and selling those as authentic stamps. Most of them fell short, really short with poor quality stamps. Also, there are certain forgeries that are really hard to identify. This is in part why philatelist started collecting them.

discover what and how to collect

Revenue stamps

Revenues do look like stamps, but their use is way different. Stamps were meant for sending letters and revenues to be used in documents. The interesting part of this is that revenues can tell a story too, they do have themes or topics, they can be collected too.

discover what and how to collect


Cinderellas are not valid for postage, but they were used as means of marketing, labeling and propaganda in postal history, therefore they have a space in philately.

discover what and how to collect


As soon as planes got into history, distance was covered faster and times to get from point A to point B were reduced significantly. As no exception for the use of airplanes, correspondence took advantage of it. Aerophilately (air mail stamps or related) came to life! There are other interesting sub-categories of aerophilately to choose: balloon mail from hot air balloons; dirigible or zeppelin mail carried by German airships in the early 1900s; and missile mail via missiles.

discover what and how to collect


It’s being said that this branch of philately started during the 70’s. Basically it consists on using stamps with designs that match the postcards design.

We hope this article helped you discover what and how to collect.

Make sure to review our tips for stamp collecting in the XXI century.

Also, don’t forget to visit the ultimate stamp collecting supplies list.

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