|by Christine Earle|
As published in STAMP MAGAZINE
The beginning of what is
known today as Thematic collecting can be traced back to a few early
philatelists who, rather than collect stamps by their country of origin, decided
to organise their collections based on the design of the stamp.
Until then, most collections were either ‘All World’, which today would be
impossible to maintain, or you specialised in a geographical area, or a period
of time. With Thematic philately it is the subject portrayed on the stamp that
is important, not the country of issue, or its geographical location. Over the
years many collectors have turned to Thematic collecting as a way of
diversifying their philatelic interests. It
is also the ideal medium with which to attract new members into our hobby.
which theme to collect is a personal thing. The subject you choose may be work
connected — a structural engineer who collects ‘Bridges’, a doctor
collecting ‘Medicine’, or a driving instructor forming a collection based on
the ‘History of the motor car’. Or it could be a previously enjoyed hobby or
pastime — one well-known
collector, a keen cyclist in his youth, has built up an excellent thematic
collection of philatelic ‘Bicycles’. Another collector, an amateur
ornithologist, has combined his love of ‘Birds’ with his love of philately.
Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, such as climb
‘Mountains’ or go ‘Exploring with Christopher Columbus’, the only limit
to choosing a theme is your imagination — one extremely successful British
collector, who has formed an international medal winning collection on
‘Roses’ doesn’t even have a garden!
theme you eventually choose to collect, it is worth taking your time and
thinking it over, before you rush out and buy your first thematic stamps. Choose
your subject carefully — many
years may be spent building up a Thematic collection, you don’t want to find
you’ve run out of enthusiasm half way through.
If it is work or hobby related you probably know quite a lot about your chosen subject already. If it is a completely new subject then there will be the further challenge of not only finding suitable philatelic material for your fledgling collection, but finding information about the subject as well. Research the local Library, or if you have access to a computer there are several encyclopaedias available on CD-ROM that will give a good basic information for you to start with. The Internet and the World Wide Web are also useful research tools. Build up as much data about your subject as possible, that way it will become easier to find the relevant philatelic material to fit your theme.
At first you will probably be attracted just to the stamps of your subject, but do not forget that Thematic collecting involves all philatelic material. Stamps, covers, postal stationery, postal slogans, meter marks, etc., all have their place in a Thematic collection. (Note the accent is on ‘philatelic’ material — postcards and other ephemera do not really belong in a true Thematic collection.)
packets, local Stamp Fairs, approval books
and large exhibitions like The Stamp Show 2000, are the ideal hunting
grounds for thematic material. Make friends with the dealers, many more are
specialising in thematic material these days, and are most are keen to help you
find the more elusive material.
Once the basic collection has been formed, some collectors are keen to display or exhibit their work. A good place to start is the local club or Society, most have an annual competition that usually includes Thematic philately. The judging at this level should be aimed at helping the exhibitors to present their material in a logical manner, without too much emphasis being put on the value of the material displayed. From the local society you can move on to the Federation Competitions, again the judging of your exhibit will be aimed more at helping you improve and prepare for National Competition, than levelling adverse criticism at your efforts, so don’t be afraid to have a go. Just follow a few basic rules to start with, for example:
to organise your collection so that it tells a story, with a beginning a middle
and an end, rather than just an accumulation of
material all of the same subject.
‘Plan’ of the exhibit — much like the index of a book — is usually
required in all but the most basic competitions. However, don’t be put of as
it is a good way to develop the theme and keep the collection on line.
many collectors these days are using a computer to write up their collections,
there is nothing to stop you using a typewriter (make sure the ribbon is of good
quality and the keys are clean producing good crisp letters) or even hand
write-up your exhibit. However, do make sure your writing is legible and don’t
overwrite, it is a philatelic
exhibit not a thesis or essay.
good presentation it is best not to mix mint (unused) and used stamps on the
same page, (it does not look very tidy). Try to obtain as much philatelicaly
diverse material as possible, (easier to do with some subjects than others).
Find out as much as you can about your chosen theme, you’d be surprised how much easier it is to find relevant material that belongs in you collection, once you really study your theme.
more help and information contact the British Thematic Association (see address
below) who will be able to give you details of several specialised thematic
societies, for example, Bird Stamp Society; Captain Cook Society; Society of
Olympic Collectors; The Ship Stamp Society, etc.
STAMP INTERNET SITES FOR THEMATIC COLLECTORS
Introduction to Thematic Collecting by
Margaret Morris. British Philatelic Bulletin No. 5.
Price £2.95. available from the British Philatelic Bureau, 20 Brandon
Street, Edinburgh EH3 5TT.
Handbook of Thematic Philately by
W.E.J.van den Bold — Details
available from the The British Thematic Association, Contact: Ian Paton. 15
Humberstone Road. Cambridge. CB4 1JD.
Copyright © Christine Earle 2000 first Published in STAMP MAGAZINE May 2000
||Any contributions or comments please contact me|