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A Chat About Philately by J. J. Casey

Philately? What is that?

Many years ago, beyond the longest recollection of the oldest of the young people, a school-teacher in Paris (so one story goes) advised her pupils to get specimens of different postage stamps, in order the better to study their geography. There was a general searching among old letters to secure these little bits of bright-colored papers. Parents and friends were asked to save the stamps from their letters; strangers at the post-office were pounced upon, the moment they received their letters, for the stamps; and from this little beginning sprang stamp-collecting.

At first it was limited to boys and girls; but the older people, seeing the interest excited over these little pictures, and led on by their endeavors to please their young acquaintances, began themselves taking an interest in the things. From a pleasure it gradually became a study, and a most fascinating one; and soon there were no more enthusiastic collectors than the people advanced in years, wealth, position, and social, literary, and scientific attainments. And to-day many great people turn with pleasure from the cares of their life to the pages of their stamp albums, to look over the numerous evidences of the growth of the postal system, or to help some young friend in the filling up of a modest little blank-book.

In spite of the ridicule which has been heaped upon the collector of stamps, the interest in stamp-collecting is as great to-day as it was a dozen years ago, and from Prince Edward Island to Australia will be found stamp "merchants," as they delight to call themselves, stamp papers, and stamp agencies, to supply the continually increasing demands of young and old collectors. Societies exist in several countries, at the meetings of which most learned papers are read to show the why and the wherefore of this or that stamp, and even the government at Montevideo has authorized a stamp society, lately established there, to use a private postal card.

Fig. 1. Fig. 1.

This pursuit of stamp collecting is called Philately, from two Greek words, which have been translated "the love of stamps," and those who engage in the pleasure or the pursuit are pleased to call themselves Philatelists.

This little "chat" shall be closed by a reference to the illustrations of some curious or interesting stamps, and a notice of stamps that have been issued during the past few months.

Fig. 2. Fig. 2.

Fig. 1 is one of the series of United States stamps for postage on large packages of newspapers and periodicals, and represents a value of forty-eight dollars. There is a higher value of sixty dollars. These stamps are perfect gems, and are among the most beautiful in the world.

Fig. 2 represents one of the stamps in use to-day in Japan. It is only necessary to compare a specimen of this issue with the first stamps used in Japan to see how rapidly the Japanese acquire every modern improvement.

Fig. 3. Fig. 3.

Fig. 3 is one of the current Guatemala stamps, printed in Paris, which found their way to collectors before they were delivered to the government. The thick black line on either side is a bird's tail—the quezal, or national bird, one of the most beautiful on this continent.

Fig. 4. Fig. 4.
Fig. 5. Fig. 5.

Figs. 4 and 5 represent stamps used in two of the native states of India. The native stamps of India, ugly as many of them are, are among the most interesting found in the collector's album, and quite difficult to obtain.

Fig. 6. Fig. 6.

Fig. 6 is one from the South African Republic, or the Transvaal, lately seized by England.

Some of the newest issues are:

Antigua.—A new value, 4d., blue; and a postal card, 1½d., red-brown on buff.

Cape of Good Hope.—The 4d., blue, surcharged in red above, "Three Pence."

Dominica.—New values of ½d., yellow; 2½d., brown; 4d., blue; and a postal card of 1½d., red-brown.

Danish West Indies.—A new value, 50c., same type as current series, in mauve.

Gold Coast.—Stamps of ½d., golden yellow, and 2d., green; and card of 1½d., red-brown.

Great Britain.—The 2½d. stamp is printed in blue, and the 2s. changes from blue to red-brown.

Montserrat.—New stamps of 2½d., red-brown, and 4d., blue; and postal card of 1½d., red-brown.

Nevis.—New stamps of 2½d., red-brown, and 4d., blue; and postal card of 1½d., red-brown.

Peru.—A new series of stamps is in preparation, but for the present the authorities surcharge the current stamp with the words, "Union Postale Universelle" and "Plata," in an oval. The 1c. changes its color to green, the 2c. to carmine, and the 20c. is suppressed.

Roumelia.—This province of Turkey begins its stamp history with a postal card of the value of 10 paras, as expressed on the face, but in reality of 15 paras, at which it is sold.