Stamp collecting blog: Thematics and finding stamp information


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07 October 2014
imports_CCGB_img-thing_80605.jpg STAMP COLLECTING BLOG: Collecting stamps by theme - No.7 Finding information
Collecting by theme can be a liberating experience, but there is still plenty of information available to help you along the way, writes Matt Hill in his regular blog on collecting stamps by theme ...

Starting a new theme can be an exciting and challenging time for the collector, but after that first flurry of activity there is often a moment of uncertainty; the more obvious stamps have been acquired and you have to ask yourself ‘what next?’

Of course, with so many philatelic bureaux now adapting their designs to meet the thematic market, and even including multiple themes on each stamp to cover more bases, there should always be plenty of scope for adding new issues to your collection. But what about the older material, which is often more desirable anyway?

For many popular subjects, such as aviation, birds and sports, there is plenty of literature available, complete with illustrations and descriptions of each stamp. The British Thematic Association (BTA) offer members a library of books and journal articles, and visitors to the BTA website can view the list of titles before joining up (

However, more obscure themes do not often have much related literature and so require a little more research. Thankfully, the American Topical Association (ATA) have been producing checklists on a multitude of themes – from ‘abacus’ to ‘zoos’ – for many years.

These listings of stamp issues are available to members of the BTA and provide collectors with their own ‘to do’ list which can be referred to whenever there is a need for some philatelic inspiration. Priced at 20p per page, the checklists can be e-mailed in an Excel spreadsheet or printed and posted (with a small fee for postage).

The BTA website also offers visitors the chance to search their extensive database of books, journals and checklists, allowing collectors to find material relating to their theme quickly and easily. At just £15, annual membership to the BTA could take your collection to the next level and ensure you never ask yourself ‘what next?’ until your collection is complete.

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