Saturday, November 8, 2014

Coins and Stamps

"Coin collecting" is properly called "numismatics"; and numismatics encompasses military orders and decorations, merchant tokens, paper currency and banknotes, bank drafts, stock certificates, and much more, including literature about the money objects and the people who made and collected them. So, too, is "stamping collecting" properly called "philatelics" or "philately"; and within the latitudes of philatelics you will find covers ("envelopes"), post cards, cancellations, and literature including the biographies of postmasters, collectors, and dealers.
The Plate Block
 is a set of four near the number
that identifies the printing plate
Unlike coins and banknotes, stamps were invented as and intended as consumables.  That created an inherent opportunity for new designs.  Interestingly enough, the nation that started postage stamps was perhaps the last to break free of a predictable series, almost entirely of definitives with the ruler's cameo and the value and little else.  

Greece has several series honoring her classical coins.
Left Pythagoras on a coin from Samos. Right Rhodes.
 Postage stamps as we know them today were instituted on May 1, 1840, in the United Kingdom after several years of advocacy by Sir Roland Hill and Robert Wallace (MP), and independent efforts by James Chalmers.  (Wikipedia here.)  

Dominca honors the first stamp.
Israel remembers the Temple shekel of the Bar Kochbar Revolt.
Also, to the point, while postage stamps do have tendrils in the past, their invention is a recorded event. The first coins are less well attested.  We do know the oldest examples; but we have no clear idea why they were invented. 
Hungary (left) commemorated the guilder of King Laszlo,
one of several in this series.
Monaco remembers
a Double Grosso of Honore the Second
also one of a series.
Like coins, stamps are most often more valuable in "mint state."  However, a mint stamp has no history; and a cancelled stamp does.  With cancellations, we do know the time and place.  Some philatelists pursue cancellations as a speciality.  

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