By Scott Campbell
1) What is philatelic? Is it a medical condition? No, it\’s Greek
Philately means \”the collection and study of postage stamps\”, and is the English version of the French word philatélie, coined by collector Georges Herpin. The Greek root phil- means \”a love of\”, and atéliameans \”freedom from charges\” (the delivery charges which are waived by affixing a stamp).
2) 1964 – the year when stamps really stuck on
Self-adhesive stamps were first introduced in Sierra Leone in February 1964. The West African country\’s humid climate had been causing water-activated stamps to stick together before they had been applied to envelopes. However, the decision infuriated philatelists as the self-adhesive stamps were difficult to remove and save in mint condition.
3) A first class collection – 7,215 stamps
George Vawas, of Ionnina, Greece, entered the record books in April 2013 for having the world\’s largest collection of stamps. He had collected 7,215 first day covers – stamps stuck to specially designed envelopes postmarked on the day of issue – from 119 different countries since 2005.
4) To include commoners or not to include commoners?
William Shakespeare became the first non-Royal to feature on a British stamp in April 1964, on the 400th anniversary of his birthday. To get around the break in tradition, the Royal Mail argued that the stamp was not actually commemorating Shakespeare, but instead the annual festival held in his honour at Stratford-upon-Avon.
5) The highest face value British stamp cost £5
The highest face value stamp issued in Britain was the £5 orange in 1882, with 246,826 of them issued. Rectangular in shape, the stamp was likely used for sending registered letters as it wasn\’t possible to send parcels until a year later. An unused orange original recently sold for $20,000 (£12,000).
6) Only Britain\’s stamps don\’t include a country
Britain\’s stamps are the only ones in the world that do not include the name of the issuing country. The stamp was initially intended for domestic use only and so only featured a profile of the Queen\’s head, but this arrangement was continued with the agreement of foreign post offices.
7) You won\’t be arrested for placing a stamp upside down
It\’s a nightmare scenario. You paste a stamp of the Queen upside down and are dragged away by the police for treason. But fear not, clumsy letter writers – it\’s a legal myth, according to the Law Commission; \”The Treason Felony Act 1848 makes it an offence to do any act with the intention of deposing the monarch, but it seems unlikely that placing a stamp upside down fulfils this criterion. The Act itself certainly does not refer to stamps.\”
8) Spend a penny, earn back thousands of pounds
Issued in Britain in May 1840, the Penny Black was the first ever adhesive stamp to be released publicly. It featured a profile of Queen Victoria, and at the time cost – unsurprisingly – one penny. A mint condition original can now be sold for thousands of pounds.
9) Postage can be peculiarly shaped too
Bananas, hearts and octagons are some of the more unusual stamp shapes that have been issued. In 1973, Tonga released a design commemorating Captain Cook\’s first arrival on the islands, that when peeled revealed a ship\’s outline. Switzerland also issued wooden stamps made from 120-year-old fir trees in 2004, and Malaysia once released glow in the dark designs featuring nocturnal animals.
10) The mother of all stamps
The world\’s biggest stamp is hexagonal and measures 1.17 x 1.34m. It was unveiled \”in honour of the \’Mother of the Nation\’\” – Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak – by the Emirates Post Group in March 2012.(Source-.telegraph)