In the 1830s the Englishman, Rowland Hill who was later to become the Postmaster General, sent in his proposal for the introduction of stamps. Rowland Hill himself drew the design for the proposed stamps (see photostat attached) together with his proposal in a phamphlet, "Post Office Reform: Its importance and practicability", for uniform postage rates based on weight throughout Great Britain.
The first stamp, a black id known as the Penny Black was issued on May 6, 1840 together with a blue version of the same design with a face value of Zd. --As the design did--not bear the name of England, the issuing country, the tradition has been maintained till now were the name of the country does not appear on stamps issued by the England. From then on other counties started to print stamps - Europe after this and the United States of America in 1847. The first stamps issued in this country was in 1867.
So what is philately? Philately can be described as the collecting and arranging of postal material i.e. postage stamps, postal routes, letters, covers and other material. This collection, be it stamps, covers etc. are usually documented to trace major historical events and other events. It cannot be established when philately was first started as a hobby as there is no known documentation. However, it can be ascertained that philately only started after the introduction of the postage stamp in 1840.
It is also known that stamps were first used to decorate walls, lamps shades etc. in England. In the 1850s it was common to see advertisements in London newspapers requesting for a large amount of coloured stamps for papering a bedroom.Collection of stamps to be pasted on walls tapered off when a more advanced approach was made to collect stamps by, using albums. The first album was produced in England in 1852. Thus, when more postage stamps became available the hobby of collecting stamps became quite common. More people began to take an interest in stamp collecting and philately began to develop. Many serious collector emerged and one of the world's largest and oldest stamp collections is owned by the Queen of England. DYTM Raja Muda of Selangor is also reputed to have a good collection.
The word "philately" is said to have been coined in France in 1864 by Georges Herpin. It is from two Greek words : "philos" meaning loving and llateleiall meaning free of payment. Originally philately was more confined to the study of labels, representing payment for postal services. From here its area was widened to include the study of the systematic collection of postage stamps, postcards, postal covers, postmarks and other postal material.
From its humble beginnings, philately has become very advanced and is now categorised into various branches e.g. postal history, postal stationery, aerophilately etc. which is the study of all aspects of airmail. Philately has become so advanced that many people tend to limit their collections to thematic collections, complete collection of a country and also an classics - stamps issued in the late 1800's. But for our purposes we will confine ourselves only to the collection of stamps as a hobby.