What are Vintage Stamps? (29 characters)

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Philatelists collect vintage stamps, which can be defined by age or non-circulation. Some collectors focus on specific years, countries, themes, or eras. Vintage stamps offer historical and artistic value and can be purchased at a low price.

Many stamp collectors, known as philatelists, specialize in vintage stamps, also called classic stamps. By some accounts, a vintage stamp is simply any postage that is not in circulation, so it cannot be used to send a piece of mail. Other experts define vintage stamps older than a few arbitrary years, such as 1960 or 1900, depending on each country’s postal service history. These classic stamps are defined solely by their age, so they include misprints, canceled or uncanceled, domestic or international selections, commemoratives, and airmail.

Some philatelists limit their vintage stamp collections to a particular year or country, determined by the cancellation mark. This lends a historical dimension to their hob which leads collectors to discover engraving and printing techniques, advertising trends, tourism patterns and international relations such as colonial connections. Other unusual attributes of vintage stamps might attract their attention due to high face value, airmail only, misprints with odd colors or typos, postage, or special delivery.

Those philatelists particularly interested in vintage stamps can further relegate themselves to a theme or era since there are so many to choose from. You might collect stamps commemorating historic American events, such as the Bicentennial, World’s Fair, the Olympics, Independence Day, the launch of the Space Shuttle, anniversaries of statehood, or world wars. Others may appreciate decorative stamps organized by subject. For example, special holiday stamps focus on intricate artwork featuring reindeer, Santa Claus, holly, snowscapes, wooden shoes, or doves.

Another use of the term vintage stamps refers to the time period before philately became a well-known international hob. Its popularity changed the design and purpose of philately, so much so that postal services began issuing special booklets or limited edition sets with a mind towards collecting. Unusual compositions with rare colors or shapes were less common, but both foreign and domestic stamps showed subjects such as endangered animals, fine art, and civil rights activists.

People prefer vintage stamps because they are easy to find and fascinating to peruse. It is often possible to purchase whole sets, or random groupings, of vintage stamps at a low, wholesale price. You can then sort them and discover what you find most appealing without knowing anything about their official values, dates or country of issue.

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