US Stamps

ATA publishes handbook on topical and thematic collecting

Aug 24, 2021, 9 AM
This recently published American Topical Association handbook is an exceptional resource for those collectors who have chosen to collect United States stamps by topic, such as space, Black history, flowers, or any of several hundred other stamp design categories.

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Topical collecting is an important part of U.S. philately. In fact, these days it is arguably the dominant means of bringing new stamp collectors into the hobby.

With more than 5,500 U.S. postage stamps already issued, attempting to collect the entire country appears daunting. But, as the U.S. Postal Service has figured out, a collection of flowers, pets, Christmas, space, Black history and other topics seems manageable.

Of course the USPS hopes that once hooked, new topical collectors will expand into the full range of U.S. stamps.

There is a wonderful national stamp club for topical collectors, the American Topical Association. Founded in 1949, the ATA serves the needs of topical collectors in the United States and more than 40 other countries around the world.

Among the many benefits of membership is the ATA’s magazine Topical Time, published six times a year, and checklists covering more than 1,500 topics.

The ATA also has published a series of handbooks. Its latest, handbook No. 168 (published in 2020), is Topical Adventures: A Guide to Topical and Thematic Stamp Collecting edited by Jack R. Cosgrove, Dawn R. Hamman, and Martin Kent Miller.

Richly illustrated in color, its 192 8½ by 11 pages are a gold mine of information and resources for collectors of topical material, from stamps to postal stationery to revenues and cinderellas (stamplike labels).

The book contains about 40 articles by a wide range of collectors (myself included) describing the lures of topical philately, how to acquire material for your collection, how to research your topic, how to get involved in exhibiting, and how to use ATA study groups to advance your collecting experience.

Topical Adventures is available for $49.50 (nonmembers) from the ATA via its website, or it can be ordered from the ATA, Box 2143, Greer, SC 29652-2143.

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