First Day Covers














First Day Covers


It is generally an accepted fact that the world's first postage stamp was issued by England, the effort of Rowland Hill. However, it is interesting to note that even before this, attempts were made to introduce some form of stamps. As early as the 17th Century, stamps were introduced in Paris. Senders of letters at that time could buy special rectangles of papers with the wording "Port paye lell" and paste the paper on to the letter which will then be forwarded to its destination. However, there was dissatisfaction on rate calculation - rates for letters sent by horseback, by coach etc. This problem was further aggravated by workers involved who resorted to cheat and thus this system failed. In Austria it is reported that a postmaster named Eggarter had introduced stamps in his post office even before Rowland Hill. Unfortunately Eggarter did not get official approval and further there was no documented evidence. Thus, years later when a letter bearing an "Eggarter Stamp" was found, authorities thought them counterfeit.

In the 1830s the Englishman, Rowland Hill who was later to become the Postmaster General, sent in his proposal for the introduction of stamps. Rowland Hill himself drew the design for the proposed stamps together with his proposal entitled, "Post Office Reform: Its importance and practicability", for uniform postage rates based on weight throughout Great Britain.

The first stamp, a black known as the Penny Black was issued on May 6, 1840 together with a blue version of the same design. As the design did not bear the name of England, the issuing country, the tradition has been maintained till now where the name of the country does not appear on stamps issued by England. From then on, other counties started to print stamps - Europe after this and the United States of America in 1847. The first stamps, issued in Malaysia was in 1867. A detailed list of the history of stamps in Malaysia is as follows :-

So what is philately? Philately can be described as the collecting and arranging of postal material i.e. postage stamps, postal routes, letters, covers and other material. This collection, be it stamps, covers etc. are usually documented to trace major historical events and other events
It cannot be established when philately first started as a hobby as there is no known documentation. However, it can be ascertained that philately only started after the introduction of the postage stamp in 1840.

It is also known that stamps were first used to decorate walls, lamps shades etc. in England. In the 1850s it was common to see advertisements in London newspapers requesting for a large amount of colored stamps for papering a bedroom.

Collection of stamps to be pasted on walls tapered off when a more advanced approach was made to collect stamps by, using albums. The first album was produced in England in 1852. Thus, when more postage stamps became available, the hobby of collecting stamps became quite common. More people began to take an interest in stamp collecting and philately began to develop. Many serious collectors emerged and one of the world's largest and oldest stamp collections is owned by the Queen of England. DYTM Raja Muda of Selangor is also reputed to have a good collection.
The word "philately" is said to have been coined in France in 1864 by Georges Herpin. It is from two Greek words : "philos" meaning loving and "llateleiall" meaning free of payment. Originally philately was more confined to the study of labels, representing payment for postal services. From here its area was widened to include the study of the systematic collection of postage stamps, postcards, postal covers, postmarks and other postal material.

From its humble beginnings, philately has become very advanced and is now categorized into various branches e.g. postal history, postal stationery and aero philately which is the study of all aspects of airmail. Philately has become so advanced that many people tend to limit their collections to thematic collections, complete collections of a particular country and also classics - stamps issued in the late 1800's.

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