Stamp Collecting plus much, much more!

Stamp site sponsored and run by the National Philatelic Society, London, United Kingdom

Welcome to UK Philately
Introducing Philately in the UK
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postal history


 Join a Philatelic Society/Stamp Club 

Joining a Philatelic Society or Stamp Club is an excellent way of growing your collection and your knowledge, whilst by attending Society meetings you can see what others are collecting in a social setting. The UK has an excellent network of philatelic societies broadly categorised as

      - National
      - Local
      - Specialised

National Societies

The UK's most prestigious philatelic society is The Royal Philatelic Society, London - the oldest philatelic society in the world that was established in 1869 as The Philatelic Society, London. "The Royal", as it is universally known, is a home of philatelic excellence and expertise.

Another long-established national body is the National Philatelic Society, (the "NPS") founded in 1899 as the Junior Philatelic Society by that great promoter of the hobby, Fred Melville and it is in that tradition that NPS is now responsible for this UK Philately website. As a large general society, the National has members through the UK and overseas and through its Library, magazine Stamp Lover, 6 London meetings a year, with Displays and each with an Auction with room and postal bidding, The NPS also offers 6 On-line Meetings/Displays a year and a Circulating Packet available throughout the UK. The Society therefore has much to offer its members wherever they live.

Other national clubs and societies can be found in the ABPS listing of National & Specialist Societies 

Local Societies
The UK has a good network of Local philatelic societies. Details are very often available in your local library and the website of the Association of British Philatelic Societies ABPS website has a Search for a Local Society facility - simply by entering your own post code you will get a listing of local societies and their distance from your home. Contact details for these Societies can normally be obtained by visiting their website (where available) or by following the instructions on the ABPS Search page. 

Alternatively your local library will very often have details of a society in your area including any local societies that are not affiliated to the ABPS and do not appear in their on-line search facility. And of course you can always try "Googling" for a local yourself!

Local Societies may not offer all the services that are provided by the larger national societies but they will usually hold monthly meetings with displays at least during the winter months. Many will operate a Circulating Packet as explained below and a number of people choose not to attend meetings still belong to a society simply so they can to buy or sell material through the "packet". The larger local societies may meet more than once a month, run an action for their members , say once a year and maybe hold the occasional dinner or other function. 

Specialist Societies
Back in Victorian times it soon became clear that maintaining a comprehensive worldwide collection was becoming an unrealistic aspiration and over the years as collectors have tended to specialist in a particular aspect of the hobby, there has been a growth in the number of societies catering for particular interests. Whether it be a particular country, reign, stamp issue, thematic interest (e.g. Olympic Games), there may well be a specialist society for your interest. Again the ABPS Listing of National & Specialist Societies will show the range of such societies and provides links to their websites.

Specialist societies provide an excellent way of learning more about your favoured subject. Many publish their own a specialist journal, hold auctions, have helpful websites and occasional meetings around the country.     
What's does a  Meeting involve?
Many societies will be pleased to welcome you as a visitor if you want to see what goes on before committing yourself to membership. Broadly speaking evening meetings will commence around 7.30 - 8 pm (some societies, including the National, have afternoon meetings) and typically the meeting will comprise a display by a visiting speaker who will talk for around 20 minutes on his subject  we have greeted one another the evening's display by a visiting speaker whom will talk about the material that he is showing after which  the audience have the opportunity to take a look at the material themselves. After a break in which tea and coffee is usually served, the speakers presents the second half of his/her display and the meeting closes around 9.45 with a vote of thanks.  Society websites often include details of the year's programme of Displays and Speakers - click here for the a look at the National's programme which shows the sort of subjects on offer. 

At some meetings members attending are invited to display a few sheets of stamps or postal history from their own collections and maybe say a few words. There is no compulsion but "Members Showing Evenings" can provide you with a stepping stone to giving a bigger display to your own or other Societies either in your own right or as part of a team when  in your Society is invited to visit another club in the area. In any event one thing to usually emerge from a "Members Showing Evening" is the wide range of interests that a local society can muster. 

The Circulating Packet

This is perhaps the moment to say something about the Circulating Packet - sometimes called the "exchange Packet" or simply "the Packet" which is a popular feature of many general and local societies, providing members the opportunity to buy and sell material form the comfort of their homes.

Basically sellers mount and price etc that they wish to sell in blank booklets which they pass to the club's Packet secretary. Books from a number of sellers are then put together in a box or packet which is then circulated round those society members who have indicated that they wish to receive "the Packet". On receipt these members purchase items if they wish to do so and notify/pay the Packet Secretary accordingly. With local Societies, the packet is circulated by hand, but with societies such as the National PS the packet is normally passed on by post, enabling the packet to reach all parts of the UK. For more detail as to the working of the National PS packet please click here.

Last updated 25/5/2023

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