The Oxford English dictionary defines the word 'Philately' as the "collection and study of stamps". The word was coined by the French who combined the Greek words " Philos" meaning "Love" with " a-tech meaning "tax-free". The stamps were a substitute for the
tax paid delivery earlier, and were therefore, as the name suggests 'tax-free'.
The introduction of the postage stamp, as also its popularity as a
convenient and inexpensive medium of communication, gave rise to an interest in philately and the birth of the philatelist.
The history of philately is as old as the history of the postage stamp itself. Dr. John Edward Gray of the British museum became the first collector by purchasing the first postage stamp on the date of its issue May 1, 1840, and preserving it as a momento.
As the definition of the dictionary suggests, however, philately does not restrict itself to the
mere collection of stamps. The philatelist studies the various processes that go into not only the production of stamps, but also details of transmission of letters and articles on which the postage stamp is stuck. Moreover philatelists are also interested in collecting the variations, which may occur in the printing of the stamps. For instance, the same stamp which may be printed in different types of paper, with a slight difference in colour, centering etc, or with
printing on the reverse became a collector's item.
The expansion of the subjects in the designing of postage stamps offered philatelists an
opportunity for specialization. Stamps could now be collected not only in terms of the country of their origin, but also according to the themes. The branch of philately known as 'Thematics', is possibly the most interesting, for the number of subjects is indeed unlimited, ranging from space travel to dinosaurs, flora and fauna,
paintings and masks.
Philatelic exhibitions, which are held at regional, national and international levels, display the whole gamut of philatelic activities
INDIAN POSTAGE STAMPS
Indian postage stamps provide an insight into all aspects of Indian life, and cover an infinite variety of subjects.
The history of the Indian postage stamp dates back to 1852. The first set of Indian stamps, which were also the first Asian stamps, known as Scinde Dawk, were issued by the commissioner of Scinde for use. within the province of Sind, now in Pakistan. The set comprised of three embossed stamps, round in shape, in white, red and blue.
The first multi-coloured stamps of the world were printed in India
in 1854 by the East India Company, depicting the portrait of Queen Victoria. These lithographs were printed in two colours, blue and red.
The first series of commemorative stamps of india were the AirMail stamps issued in 1929. Every Significant event in the history of India since then as found a place in the Indian postage stamp. Whether it was inauguration of New Delhi in 1931, or Independence of India in 1947, the first Air india international flight in 1948, or the formation of the Indian republic in 1950, each landmark in Indian history has been commemorated by a postage stamp.
While most of the initial stamps issued in India, as also in other parts of
the world were definitive, the first series of definitive stamps issued after independence was in 1949. These depicted
historical monuments such as the Taj Mahal, the Konarak temple, and other places of historical significance.
About two thousand stamps, both commemoratives and Definitives have been issued since 1852. To go through these stamps is to go through the history of the country through the ages. The journey through this digital album should be rewarding experience, not only for one interested in stamps, but also for anyone interested in Indian art, history, culture, architecture, flora, fauna and its contribution to science and technology. The stamps in the album are organised both chronologically and thematically.
PHILATELIC CLUBS AND SOCIETIES
Stamp collectors in different cities formed clubs and societies around the world in India also many societies were formed. one of the oldest philatelic societies THE PHILATELIC SOCIETY OF INDIA, was established in 1897 in
Calcutta. The journal is published even now from Mumbai. The other philatelic society is the Empire of India . Philatelic Society that was formed in Bombay and continues to function from there. Both issue their journals, giving useful information to philatelists.
If you are interested in collecting Indian stamps, it would be advisable to join a philatelic club and subscribe to the philatelic journals.
Postage stamps are available through the Post Offices around the world. Most Postal Administrations also have Philatelic Bureaus serving the stamps collectors. Stamps can be purchased from Post Office, or collected from the covers that you
receive in mail. But for getting specific stamps you desire you either exchange/ buy them at clubs or from Philatelic Dealers. Every major city around the world has it share of good dealers.