What we might call modern United States stamps, spanning a time frame from 1976 to the present, lend themselves well to topical stamp collecting.
In both quality and variety there is a lot to choose from if you wish to start a topical collection. The U.S. Postal Service has a high standard of quality that is required in the nation’s stamps and this serves everyone well, including the stamp collector.
The American Bicentennial era saw a number of beautiful stamps issued. As is the tradition, the United States holds an international stamp show every 10 years and 1976 was no exception. The show that year titled Interphil and held in Philadelphia highlighted the celebrations in this country and although the stamp issued for the occasion was of no particular design significance, it was a high quality stamp. Pretty much the same could be said for the Ameripex ‘86 stamp issued that year to commemorate that international stamp show.
You can understand that 1976 is a good place to begin a topical collection because here you have two good subject choices. One is the bicentennial itself. There were plenty of U.S. stamps issued and worldwide many other countries joined in the celebration to commemorate the occasion.
Additionally, that is a good date to begin a collection of souvenir sheets issued at the international stamp shows held in this country. All of these are nice stamps and some are exceptional.
Interest in flag stamps
There is a lot of interest in flag stamps and in the year 2000 the Postal Service issued a sheet of 20 stamps depicting the nation’s flag in some 20 different designs. This sheet titled “The Stars and Stripes” would make a very interesting part of a flag stamp topical collection. Since the year 2000 more interesting flag stamps have joined this sheet of 20.
Going back for a moment, 1993 saw the issuing of a great flag stamp, the Flag Over Porch stamp. This stamp constitutes a topical stamp collecting area all its own. There are many varieties of this stamp and a lot of stamp collectors try to find the different plate numbers that went along with the coil printings of this issue. Some of these are very desirable and, I might add, expensive because of their rarity.
Using flag stamps as a topic, it is possible to assemble a very interesting topical stamp collection. You could combine this with research on the subject of flag stamps and this could lead to a superb topical stamp collection.
Christmas stamps popular
Another very worthy topical stamp collecting subject is Christmas stamps. Around 160 countries issue Christmas stamps and although there has been controversy surrounding the issuing of these stamps, they are well accepted.
Because of their wide use, it would be possible to collect these colorful well done stamps from one or more countries or countries in a certain area of the world. If you chose, just Christmas stamps from the U.S. would make a good pick.
People frequently combine the collecting of Christmas stamps with postmarks from towns with Christmas related names such as Bethlehem, KY and Santa Claus, IND. A well thought out collection of covers, as we collectors call stamps on envelopes, can constitute a very interesting and educational topical collection.
Christmas stamp collectors also have a collecting group, The Christmas Philatelic Club. This group has its own publication, appropriately named The Yule Log. There are a number of very active Christmas stamp collectors in Kentucky also.
Back in 1949 to serve the needs of topical stamp collectors, the American Topical Association was founded. Today it serves 6,000 members worldwide. Those interested in topical stamp collecting will find the folks at the ATA very helpful. The ATA maintains an enormous list of topical subjects that stamp collectors can consider.
Anyone wanting more information on topical stamp collecting can also attend the meetings of the Kentucky Stamp Club here in Frankfort. We meet the second Saturday of each month at Memorial Baptist Church, 130 Holmes St. This coming Saturday, June 9, at 2p.m. we’ll be having an interesting stamp program and the club members will be glad to help anyone wanting more information on this great hobby.