What does "postal history" mean for a collector of worldwide stamps?
Postal history is a subset of philately. The term encompasses the study and collection of postal artifacts that illustrate the evolution of the postal service throughout history on a worldwide scale. The subject includes marcophily, the collection of postmarks and other postal markings, such as wartime rubber stamps. Many postal history enthusiasts enjoy collectibles such as first day covers.
What is a first day cover?
First day covers are popular collectibles comprising a cover (usually a postcard or envelope), a set of stamps, and a cancellation bearing the date of first issue for the stamps. Modern covers feature attractive designs, and companies such as Benhams produce limited-edition covers with silk insets that are particularly appealing to collectors. These modern covers generally have thematically linked cancellations, stamps, and covers, and are pictorial milestones that are fun to collect and display. Rare covers, and covers signed by a relevant celebrity, are particularly valuable and command a premium on the secondary market.
What is philately?
Philately is the official term for stamp collecting, and someone who collects or studies stamps is a philatelist. Georges Herpin coined the phrase in 1864 because he did not approve of the previous term, "timbromania." He combined "phil," meaning "an attraction to something," with "ateleia," meaning "exempt from taxes," to form the new word. Many philatelists collect stamps and other forms of postal history from around the world, as the varied and interesting designs make for fascinating collections.