Have you ever seen a stamp with a magnifying glass? No? Then you really must take a look at the Spanish souvenir sheet from 2020. On it, a hand “holds” a small real magnifying glass, giving the impression that you are looking at stamps from a stamp album together with two philatelists depicted on a stamp. These philatelists are a work by the Swiss painter François Barraud from 1929. With this souvenir sheet, the Spanish Post Office wants to honour people who are involved in philately. It is a tribute to the fact that there are many people who see philately not only as a hobby but even as a way of life.
The interest in collecting stamps, began almost simultaneously with the appearance of the first stamps in the United Kingdom in 1840. Although there is no record of who the first stamp collectors were, we know from old newspapers that shortly after the appearance of the first stamps, advertisements were placed inviting people to exchange letters in order to obtain and thus collect stamps. It is therefore not surprising that already two decades later, in 1864, the word philately (from the Greek: philo (love, friend, lover) and atelia (exempt from taxes or tribute)) was coined to describe stamp collecting as such. For the first time, Gustave Herpin used this term in an article in the magazine “Le Collectioneur de timbres-poste”.
Today, philately is no longer limited to just collecting stamps from certain countries. There is something for everyone: for storytellers, for detail lovers, for technology freaks, for nature lovers, for historians, for communicators, art historians, design enthusiasts, ……. a diverse field of activity for many people whose outlook on life includes enjoying small colorful pictures that can still be the gateway to the world and to understanding it, if only one engages with them…….