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It's not just stamps that may form the subject of your collection as these Stamp Booklet covers show...

 Tea or Transport

 Wartime (1942 booklet) 

How to Begin  by Christine A. Earle 

What interests you?

     Thematic collecting is area where many ‘beginners’ can enter the hobby without being intimidated by their lack of philatelic knowledge. You can collect what you like or what you are interested in, and then learn the ‘philatelic’ aspects as your collection grows. A good way to start is by forming small collections of stamps depicting subjects that interest, amuse or entertain you. You will find in time that one area in particular will seize your imagination and you can then go on to develop the collection to whatever level you wish to attain; be it simply for your own pleasure, to display at your local society, or to win an international gold medal. 
    At first you will probably be attracted just to the stamps of your subject, but do not forget that Thematic collecting involves telling a story using a variety of philatelic material. Stamps, covers, postal stationery, postal slogans, meter marks, etc., they all have their place in the Thematic collection. Try to organise your collection so that it tells a story, with a beginning a middle and an end, rather than just an accumulation of material, all of the same subject. Try to include chapters and sub-chapters, which will allow the story to be developed logically



Three Suggestions                                                             

The three things I would suggest for coming up with ideas for a Thematic collection are:
1) Read a good book. Often something you read will take your fancy and you will realize it is a subject that would make a good thematic collection. 
2) Think about the things that you enjoy doing. Sometimes it will have a great theme, for example, gardening, ornithology, a sport (my first ever collection was on the history of archery — a fascinating subject to research). 
3) Watch the news — a news story can often stimulate an interest in another country, or some other aspect of life.
 These ideas also often make good collections.

Wartime Glamour

Subject or Thematic?

Recently, I met two Thematic collectors — One collected ‘Cats’ with the aim to amass every cat depicted on stamps, keeping them in numerous stock-books in country & date order, and even going as far as keeping the set together even if the rest do not portray cats. 
     The other is a collector of 'Royalty' and their aim is to try to tell the story of the Princess of Wales from her birth at Sandringham to her death in Paris. 
    Neither is the right or wrong way to form a collection, it is entirely your choice… one (cats) is a 'Subject' collection and the other (Diana) a 'Thematic' collection.  
    However, can you guess which one was describing their disillusionment with their collection, saying that it ‘just wasn't going anywhere’? Whilst the other was saying how fascinating it was to research the subject, discovering more facts that lead indirectly to further material to look out for. Also, ask yourself which one of the above collections do you think would be more interesting to the casual viewer?


...and to help you

    Club packets, approval books, local Stamp Fairs, and Philatelic Exhibitions, are the ideal hunting ground for thematic material. Make friends with the dealers, many more are specialising in thematic items these days, and all are keen to help you find the more elusive material. Don’t be afraid to ask other collectors for help and advice, I have always found even the most exulted philatelist has been keen to help me, even in my earliest days of stamp collecting. Stamp magazines are a useful resource for articles and advice, and try to build up your own philatelic and thematic library for future reference.
Finally, do not forget that stamp collecting is a hobby; you are free to collect what you like and enjoy. Try not to be constrained by to many ‘do’s and ‘don’ts’. Thematic Philately can be seen is an opportunity to show individualism and to move away from the stereotyped stamp collection. By using blank album pages and arranging the collection in a structured and attractive manner, whilst telling a fascinating and well thought out story, you have an opportunity to bring the Fun back into Philately! Why not ‘Give it a Go’, I am sure it will not disappoint you. .. 





Last updated 11/9/2011

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