American Boy’s Stamp Collecting


Postage StampIn 1864 Dick & Fitzgerald published The American Boy’s Book of Sports and Games: A Practical Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Amusements.  The book is a large one, with the bulk of it is devoted to those endeavors we normally associate with sports and athleticism, including skating, swimming, sailing and horsemanship.  A small section at the back, however, was devoted to philately, and we believe our readers may find it interesting to see how Americans viewed the hobby at that early point in its history.  Herewith, the text as it originally appeared back in 1864:


It has become quite a mania to collect and preserve, in regular geographical or alphabetical order, the postage-stamps of different nations, in little albums made for the purpose.  To get a complete set of those issued by every nation is difficult for a boy, but not impossible; and the pursuit, to say the least, is amusing.

It is calculated that over 1,200 different stamps are issued by various governments.  Of these, Spain has about 65; the United States, 44; Great Britain and Dependencies, about as many as Spain; Hanover, 34; Prussia, 32; and so on, down to Hamburg, with one.

The way of arranging your stamps is:  1. Geographical – American, European, Asiatic, African, and Oceanic;  2. Numismatical – according to their monetary value.  In each geographical division, each country should have a distinct place.

The engravings in this article will give the young reader an idea of the appearance of a few of the stamps.

postage stamps


In several countries there are stamps issued for special postal purposes.  Thus, in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, there are stamps for registered letters only; the latter place has in addition a “too late” stamp.

The French have a 10 and 15 centime à percevoir label, for affixing on an unpaid letter.  The small oval “Segna Tassa,” issued for a like reason, is a type of the rest.  Wurtemburg has a stamp that is placed on returned letters.

In many stamp catalogues there will be found stamps classed under a separate heading as Essays.  This is simply a poor translation of the French Essai.  These stamps are, however, very scarce; in many instances they are proofs taken while the die is in process of engraving. 

In the United States we have had several private postal companies, but it is uncertain whether the stamps belonging to them should have a place in our albums. 

There is in Europe – or there was – only one such company, called the Boten Institute, in Hamburg; the labels are curious, and we think, in this instance, might be allowed to appear as stamps proper, as the Institute was sanctioned by the government. 


New Granada postage stamp


Looking for stamps for your collection? Be sure to check out Sonora Stamp Shop.