How to write up a themed collection


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19 October 2018
Collecting stamps by theme has long been considered the most simple way to collect, but by providing an in-depth write up of your collection it needn’t be any less interesting, writes Stamp Collector Editor Matt Hill

Adding a new stamp to your thematic collection is fairly straightforward. Find a stamp on your theme – how about Liberia’s chocolate-scented stamp sheets for your food theme? – and put it in your album.

Job done.

But is this really all you want from your hobby?

For many collectors the challenge is not just in identifying desirable stamps and then obtaining them, but in researching the story behind the item. This more thorough approach isn’t for everyone, but a stamp album can be brought to life when each item is accompanied by an explanation, describing where, when and why the design was issued.

Chocolate stamps from Liberia, for example, will make an interesting addition to any collection thanks to their novelty, but collectors who do their homework will be able to explain that the African country is a major exporter of cocoa, and thus reveal why the stamps were issued.

Dig further and you can find press information on the internet that states: ‘the attractive designs strive to educate philatelists in the process of making this beloved dessert, from harvesting the beans to packaging chocolate products.’

The sheets also feature a ‘quick response barcode’ which allows mobile phone users to scan the image and be presented with a document entitled ‘From Bean to Bar: The Making of Chocolate’. All good stuff for a more informative write-up.

For older stamps, without the fanfare of a press release or a website, the information may not be so readily available, but for many collectors the challenge to discover new information is half the fun.

There are many avenues for the philatelic researcher to pursue, whether it’s a specialised catalogue or journal (the Royal Philatelic Society London catalogue of articles and journals at is highly recommended), a museum or archive, a website, or colleagues at a philatelic society.

Thematics is often considered the less studious route to follow, but it can be just as fascinating as a country collection, perhaps more so, since your unique, enlightening collection could uncover certain information for the very first time.

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