World Stamps

Societies do their part to support stamp hobby

Dec 20, 2013, 3 AM

Anyone who is involved in the stamp hobby for any length of time soon comes to realize that it spreads across a very wide spectrum of collecting interests.

Linn’s lineup of columns and features reflects much of this diversity. So do the many stamp hobby specialty groups that service collectors around the world.

These groups are formed and held together by collectors who share common interests, whether it’s a popular topical subject, a specific geographic location, or a specialty such as postal stationery or stamp errors.

Most of these groups provide a newsletter or journal to keep their members up to date on new research and club activities. This might be a mailed publication, but frequently we’re seeing groups creating digital documents that can be sent by e-mail, reducing the postage and printing costs that members normally have to bear.

Some groups hold annual meetings where members can get together and enjoy trading information — as well as collectible stamps and covers.

Two popular specialty groups in the United States are the American Topical Association and the American First Day Cover Society.

Though based in the United States, the ATA has members worldwide, as do many specialty groups.

ATA members develop themes or story lines based on images or subjects of the collected stamps, according to the group’s website, and they assemble their collections according to themes or topics instead of by country.

This group is particularly helpful if you have several topical collections underway, or even if you’re building only one. The ATA journal, Topical Time, is published six times per year, and it always makes for interesting reading.

The ATA has dozens of associated specialty groups, such as the Lighthouse Stamp Society, the Space Unit and the Cats on Stamps Study Unit.

The ATA website at offers additional information about the group. You also can learn more by writing to American Topical Association, Box 8, Carterville, IL 62918-0008.

The American First Day Cover Society obviously caters to the collector of first-day covers, but many of its members are also cachetmakers who enjoy creating and selling FDCs.

The journal First Days is published eight times per year, with engaging articles on historic and recent subjects, collecting tips and much more.

The society also conducts a popular competition each year to select the best cacheted FDCs from items submitted by collectors.

The AFDCS website is at; or write to American First Day Cover Society, Box 16277, Tucson, AZ 85732.

These are just two of the many specialty groups serving our hobby.

One of the largest collector groups around also serves as a great resource for connecting with some of the smaller organizations.

The American Philatelic Society sponsors stamp shows, provides educational opportunities and much more.

It also has links to many specialty groups on its website. If you’re looking for a group to connect with, visit the APS at, and click on the link for Specialty Societies under the heading “Stamp Collecting.”

Information about the many benefits of APS membership is available on the site, or by writing to American Philatelic Society, 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823.