Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stamps, An Ocean of Knowledge

India Post is celebrating the "National Postal Week" from the 9th of October 2009 to the 15th of October 2009.

The postal department delivers messages bundled in paper across social, physical and geographical barriers. Postage stamps are an integral part of this titanic network that connects people who are miles apart. Philately, the collecting and study of stamps, is a hobby that transcends time. It has evolved as an enjoyable, educative and engaging hobby. Dr R. Sango Ram, a retired professor of Chemistry and an avid philatelist says, “Stamps are mini-ambassadors of a country in a foreign land. They depict different facets of the country like its leaders, language, geography, history, scientific advancements, art, culture and heritage”.
The most common type of stamp collection is general collection which is an assorted collection of postage stamps. A specialized collection could be country collection or a topical or thematic collection which is typically inspired by a field of interest that could be related to sports, a favourite subject or an area of work. “Nobel laureates”, “the solar system”, “man on the moon” and “Comet Halley” are some of Dr Sango Ram’s thematic collections and he believes that, “Thematic collections are the best way for beginners to acquire knowledge and inculcate interest in philately”.
Definitive stamps and commemorative stamps are the two types of postage stamps. Definitive stamps which are printed in large numbers are used for postal mailing and are available to the public for prolonged periods. Definitive stamps of various denominations usually depict iconic leaders of the country. Commemorative stamps are less common and are released to commemorate an event, mark an anniversary, honour a famous person, recognize the importance of a place or showcase rare flora and fauna. Each commemorative stamp is printed only once in a limited quantity and can be procured at designated post offices until stocks last.
Apart from stamps first day issues like first day covers, information brochures, miniature sheets and sheetlets compliment one’s stamp collection. A first-day cover is a special envelope released when a new postage stamp is issued. Miniature sheets, sheetlets and souvenir sheets are small sheets containing one or more stamps along with special designs. Information brochures carry details of newly released stamps and the reasons for their issue. Occasional releases like maxim cards and special covers which are available for a limited period after the release are a collector’s delight. Maxim cards are special postcards which portray images that were printed on commemorative stamps. Special covers are released to mark occasions or events of local importance.
While some collectors prefer to collect mint stamps others prefer used stamps. Mint stamps are fresh stamps that have not been used for postage. Used stamps are those which have either been used for postage or have been cancelled on request by the collector. Cancellation is the process of postmarking postal stationary like mint stamps, first day covers and postcards.
The India Post is constantly enhancing its portfolio of postage stamps by adding new stamps with novel designs, unique shapes and vibrant shades. By subscribing to the philatelic services offered by India Post, these exquisite releases can be a philatelist’s prized possession. In 2006, India Post released its first fragrant stamp. In an elaborate three step process, the stamps were printed, rolled into cylinders with a special imported sandalwood based ink and dried. During the process of drying microcapsules which hold the fragrance of sandalwood were embedded in the stamp. The romantic scents of roses were impregnated in a special Valentine’s Day release in 2007. The year 2008 saw the release of the first set of calendar stamps by India Post with a collection titled “Festivals of India”. Calendar stamps are theme based stamps which will be released every month till the end of 2009 according to the current schedule. India Post is working with Hallmark India to bring out a collection of 25 all-time best Indian stamps in silver and gold.
Stamps are miniature art collectibles which can be instrumental in expanding frontiers of knowledge. Philately is often described as “the king of hobbies and hobby of kings” and is pursued by people at different strata of society. Through philately one can take a deep dive to explore many hidden secrets in the ocean of knowledge.

Philatelic Deposit Accounts
India Post provides a service by which newly released postage stamps are delivered to subscribers by Registered Post at no extra cost. Stamp collectors can subscribe to the latest philatelic releases by opening a Philatelic Deposit Account (PDA) with an initial deposit of at least Rs 200/-. Until recently, the Philatelic Bureau of the General Post Office (GPO) was handling all the Philatelic Deposit Accounts. Now, this function has been de-centralized and subscribers can open Philatelic Deposit Accounts at head post offices that cater to customers from localities in their respective jurisdictions.

Quick Facts:

Philatelic Deposit Accounts:
Residents of Bangalore can open Philatelic Deposit Accounts at the GPO and post offices at Basavanagudi, Jalahalli, Jayanagar, Rajajinagar, RT Nagar and HAL II Stage.

Philatelic Museum:

The Bangalore GPO has a philatelic museum which showcases stamps released from 1947 to 2008. The museum will be opened on request on all working days between 10am and 5pm.

Phila Post:
Priced at a nominal rate of Rs 10/- per issue and Rs 40/- for an annual subscription, this quarterly philatelic magazine is available at designated post offices.


  1. Very detailed and well written, interesting post.
    :) Well done!!!!

  2. The electronic medium of communication has subdued the traditional mail. Thankfully the Indian Postal system still has a niche for itself.
    A very nice article about Philately. Good job :-)