14 Philatelic Branches Explained

15 Philatelic Branches Explained

Howdy Readers!

14 philatelic branches explained is an attempt to help the new collectors about different practices of the King of Hobbies. I hope all of you are safe and sound with your family and enjoying the King of Hobbies. It’s been nearly two weeks since I published my last article and I have been busy with quite a few other nagging aspects of my daily life.


Aerophilately entails specializing in the collection and study of Airmail. The scope of this faculty of Philately covers the following

  • Airmail Postage Stamps.
  • Airmail Etiquettes.
  • Postal Markings Of Air Transport.
  • Postal documents transmitted by Air.
  • Rates and Routes
  • First Flight Covers
  • Crash Covers

The other subspecialties of this branch of Philately cover areas such as Balloon Mail, Zeppelin Mail, and Rocket Mail. Some of the Specialist Aerophilately societies are

  • British Air Mail Society.
  • American Air Mail Society.
  • The Canadian Aerophilatelic Society.
  • Zeppelin Study Group.

1927 First Flight Cover Breslau Prag Munchen

15 Philatelic Branches Explained

Astro Philately

It is about collecting postal history related to various astronomical pursuits done by different countries using stamps and postmarked envelopes. Different postage stamps, cancellations, and FDCs connected with projects are the topical areas of interest for the collectors in this domain. The collectibles about this practice are those which have a direct connection with space missions, whether or not they include any special pictorial depiction.

Below is a picture of covers that were flown in on space shuttle mission STS-8 and sold to collectors after it landed back to earth. The back of each cover was marked with a serial number.

15 Philatelic Branches Explained


Philatelic literature is the written repository of knowledge about the wonderful hobby of kings. It primarily entails information about stamps and postal history. This is probably the only hobby having the largest knowledge bank amongst its peers globally. It is spread among the collectors, philatelic societies, dealers, and specialist libraries.

According to Ralph A. Kimble (How to Collect Stamps, New York, 1932) wrote: “I do not consider any person proficient in collecting or in the knowledge of collecting until he has at least a working acquaintance with the greatest of all sources of information, the philatelic press.” He goes on to say “here you will find a very gold mine of information, covering a vast range of topics, information that would be inaccessible if it were not presented through this medium.”

Philatelic literature can be further classified into

  • Stamp Catalogs
  • Periodicals
  • Journals
  • Single Country Books
  • Philatelic Bibliography


This practice of philately involves the study of Maximum Cards. A maximum card which is also known as Maxi-Card is a postcard that is made up of three elements, A stamp, Picture of the stamp, and the postal mark. The postage stamp is placed on the picture side of the card in maximum concordance. The cancellation mark placed is usually relative to the picture and the postage stamp. Many countries do not issue such cards as the USA. Germany does a limited number of releases, whereas Australia issues a Maxi-Card for each stamp.

Modern Philately

Modern Philately encourages collectors and philatelists to indulge in the collection of modern or recent philatelic material. This started in approximately 1991 and it is another practice to involve the postal authorities in the fact that there exists a community that is interested in collecting and studying the material issued by them. The subjects of Modern Philately are exhibits spread across the already established classed of traditional, postal history and postal stationery.

One Frame Philately

It is relatively a new branch out of the 14 philatelic branches explained. It started around 2004.  Technically it means an exhibit which is equivalent of 16 standard size pages contained in a single frame. This faculty of philately was initiated to encourage new collectors and showcasing more specialized collections from seasoned practitioners of Philately.

The key to making it successful is the choice of subject. It is a way to revive those topics of which there is scarce knowledge available for the fraternity. It is a great opportunity for specialist collectors to showcase their knowledge.

Open Philately

In Open Philately, collectors can collect objects from other collecting fields that support the hobby and help develop an understanding of the philatelic material. Collectors can also give it a personal touch. It is an opportunity to showcase cultural, social, industrial, commercial, and another context to showcase the deep understanding on part of the exhibitors for the particular topic being exhibited. It was accepted as new faculty of Philately only a few years back.

There are only two pre-requisites – (A)Philatelic Material must be at least 50% of the exhibit and (B)the rest could be non-philatelic. Non-Philatelic material can be postcards, coins, photographs, medals, badges, etc. and they should be authentic.

Social media can be a key driver in promoting this practice of the king of hobbies.

Postal History

This term was coined by John Harry Robson Lowe. He was a well-known Philatelist, Stamp Dealer, and Auctioneer. He was the first to pioneer the study of this branch of Philately in the 1930s. According to philatelists, the accurate definition is the study of postal systems and their operations like routes, rates, markings, and means. It also entails postal policies, postal administration, political impact, postal surveillance. It surely is a collecting specialty.

The important areas of study are:

Geographic – There are two broad classifications under this aspect (A)Regional Studies (B)Postal Routes.

  • Regional Studies –  are typically based on a geographical area, such as countries of origin, native districts, cities, towns or villages, places associated with family roots, or workplaces.
  • Postal Routes – are alternate geographical based study areas that provide great variety due to the many places and services available along a route.

Transportation – Following major themes are studied under this area of Postal History

  • Aerophilately – As the name suggests this specializes in the study of Airmail and as explained above in this post 14 philatelic branches explained.
  • Balloon Mail – This existed for a short period during the siege of Paris.
  • Maritime Mail – As a theme, it offers a wide variety of learning. It could be studying a particular shipping line, Ship letter marks, Mails between a ruling country and its colonies. This also includes maiden voyages and shipwreck covers which are in great demand.
  • Zeppelin – This is a very popular subject. This entails the study of the philatelic history of the mail carried on famous German Zeppelin Airships between 1908 and 1939.

Subject Based – Following are the areas of interest for the study

  • Express Mail – As the name suggests it is an expedited mail service for which a customer has to pay a little extra. Haste Poste Haste letters of the 17th century can be considered precursors of modern Express mail. From1998 the international accelerated delivery services are governed by the EMS Cooperative of the Universal Postal Union.
  • Marcophily – It is the study of postmarks, cancellations, and postal markings applied via hand or mechanical devices.
  • Military Mail – As the name suggests is specifically meant for armed forces.
  • Parcel Post – It is the least collected, area of postal history because of the lack of potential material.
  • Postal Censorship – This is especially forced during times of war. It could also be deployed in both the formats civil and military.
  • Registered Mail – Refers to mail items or documents that are considered valuable and are governed by a chain of custody. The letters have their details recorded in a register to enable their location to be tracked and offer many distinctive handstamps. Many countries have issued special stationery for the purpose.

14 Philatelic Branches Explained

Revenue Philately

This faculty of philately is about the study of Revenu, Tax, Duty, or Fiscal stamps. Revenue stamps look quite identical to postage stamps and these stamps are issued by the government to collect statutory taxes. Some countries also issue dual-purpose postage and revenue stamps.

The usage of revenue stamps dates back to earlier than the first postage stamp in 1840. The stamps of Stamp Acts of the 18th century. When the postage stamps started circulating the use of revenue stamps became widespread. Their use is on the decline in the modern days. The collection of revenue stamps have because of the decline in their popularity. Some types of revenue stamps that are in prevalence are Court Fees and Documents.

14 Philatelic Branches Explained.

Thematic Philately

Thematic Philately is the art of collecting postage stamps, postal stationery, postmark, and other related philatelic material to illustrate a theme. A thematic collection will generally consist of a wide range of philatelic material from a wide range of countries. The collection should be organized in such a way that it tells an interesting story.

There are countless options available from the wealth of philatelic material that has been produced and still continues to be produced. Themes, such as “Olympics”, “ships” or “birds”. Stamps for thematic collections are generally commonly available and inexpensive, it is just time-consuming finding the stamps.

Traditional Philately

It basically is all about the history and collecting of postage stamps. Over a period of time and gradual diversification of the hobby different categories as mentioned above started to develop. Whatever does not fall into the jurisdiction of the other faculties forms a part of what we call the Traditional Philately.

Traditional Philately has the broadest scope of all the exhibiting categories, allowing all aspects of philately to be included in one form or another. However, the focus remains the postage stamps, and all other aspects should support the basic story of the postage stamps in some way.

Youth Philately

As the term is self-explanatory, this entails an experiential way of educating the younger generation about the King of Hobbies and involving them in a constructive manner so that they develop a taste for stamp collecting and other related activities.

Picture Postcards

A Picture Postcard is a thick rectangular piece of paper with a picture on the front and short writing space with the address of the recipient at the back. It was intended to be mailed without an envelope.

In a few countries, one can send a postcard for a lower fee than the regular mail. Philatelists distinguish between postcards (which require a stamp to be affixed to them) and the ones (which have the postage pre-printed on them). While a postcard is usually printed and sold by a private company, individual, or organization, a postal card is issued by the respective and relevant postal authorities. The other name for this branch of philately is Deltiology.

The first picture postcard was written by Theodore Hook who was a writer and a comedian. It was called Penny Panates which was a satire on the postal workers. It fetched £31,750 at an auction in 2002, the most ever paid for a postcard.

As per the standards defined by USPS, a postcard should have the following dimensions and shape: rectangular, 3 12 inches (88.9 mm) H × 5 inches (127 mm) L × 0.007 inches (0.178 mm) T and 4 14 inches (108 mm) H. It should not exceed the maximum dimensions as 414 inches (108 mm) H × 6 inches (152.4 mm) L × 0.016 inches (0.406 mm) T.

But now using Picture Postcards is on the decline and their collection is a great way to discover the history and various places across the globe.

14 philatelic branches explainedWorld’s Oldest Post Card


With this, we now come to an end to the 14 Philatelic Branches Explained. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it.

Rohit Mittal

Self Taught Techie, Father to a budding philatelist son and a Global Business Professional Having Traveled across four continents. I have helped European and Indian Businesses to turn around and realize business objectives in 180 to 270 days. Reading & Writing is my second nature. I rekindled my childhood passion for stamps after forty years and love to collect European Pre 1960s MNH OG stamps majorly from France, Germany, and Italy.
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Jayadeva Yarasi
Jayadeva Yarasi
11 months ago

I am intrested in FPO Covers of India, USA, Australia, some African nations. Can you help me ?

11 months ago

informative, keep it up