Collecting Stamps and Coins as a Hobby

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The first stamps in the world were issued in 1840 when Great Britain had issued a series of postage stamps with the image of Queen Victoria. In 1852, roughly 12 years later, India followed suit although the English Royalty continued using road runners for delivering messages between places. Currently, the largest postal system in operation globally is the Indian Postal System. The India Post service is run by the central government in the country. The department of posts in all nations over the world issue postage stamps of different themes. The themes may help to popularize local heritage sites, fauna and flowers or even honour national heroes.
Some of the stamps issues come with defects because of oversight. For instance, in 1918, the US Department of Posts issued stamps of a plane flying upside down. There was only one sheet containing hundred stamps which had this defect. The production was halted when this error was noticed. The holder of this stamp sold it for $825,000 while someone who held a series of 4 “inverted Jenny” stamps as they were known as sold it for $2.74 million.

The 2 penny Blue Mauritius stamp was sold in 1993 for $1.14 million while another 2 penny Orange Mauritius stamp was sold for $1.072 million. In 1996, a collector had purchased Swedish Three Skiing Yellow for $2.3 million! There are some of the rare stamps worth hundreds and millions of dollars which are there with us, in the treasure chests left behind by our grandparents.

No instances of misprinted stamps have been observed in India. However, because of public interest, the India Post department also started issuing stamps which exhibit the heritage and historical sites, fauna and flora and stamps which honour international leaders. For instance, on the day of India’s independence, the Indian postal department issued a stamp bearing the Indian flag on August 15, which was priced at 3 1 annas. The stamp is not available now and it can be seen only in exhibitions. The Indian postal department promotes issue of FDCs or First Day Covers which not only bear special cancellations marking first day but are also issued only once which gives them the status of prized possession the immediate next day. These stamps have to be bought at premium prices.

All kinds of commemorative stamps are produced for a limited period and collectors purchase them hoping for long term gains. For instance, special stamps are launched on the sesquicentennial birth anniversary of a national hero, such as the one launched for Swami Vivekananda or Rabindranath Tagore a few years ago. You can encourage school going kids to buy limited edition stamps such as these from their pocket money which would convert into indirect savings later on. Who knows, they may become philatelists too!

The airmail charges have been recently fixed by the Indian postal authorities. Since the declaration that the Indian economy is the third largest in the world, the Indian Government has started publicising this fact through the rupee symbol and stamps. Suggestions have been offered to introduce the rupee symbol on the domestic and airmail stamps. A stamp dedicated to the rupee symbol can also be started in the country. If such a step is taken, then these stamps would become collectors’ items.