Vintage nature stamps from around the world
These tiny works of art are worth adding to your virtual collection.
With hundreds of millions of enthusiasts around the world, stamp collecting is one of the most popular hobbies out there. The study of stamps, known as "philately," has been around since stamps were first invented in the mid-1800s. Over 20 million people in the United States and more than 200 million worldwide build collections based on all sorts of themes – history, geography, ships and more. Some folks even collect "stamps on stamps" (mind-blowing, right?).
We've curated a virtual collection of our own, featuring vintage stamps from around the world depicting beautiful natural scenes, from butterflies to waterfalls:
Italian stamps showcase cypress trees (c. 1968), a Florentina flower (c. 1967), and pine trees (c. 1966) in breathtaking landscapes. (Photos: Marzolino/Shutterstock, YANGCHAO/Shutterstock and Boris15/Shutterstock)
An Oenothera drummondi flower (stamp c. 1960) and Zegris eupheme uarda butterfly (stamp c. 1965) adorn stamps from series dedicated to flowers and butterflies of Israel, respectively. (Photos: irisphoto1/Shutterstock)
A stamp printed by France (c. 1973) shows the Storks of Alsace. (Photo: Sergey Goryachev/Shutterstock)
Stamps featuring cherry blossoms (c. 1961), cranes (c. 1968) and plum tree flowers (c. 1937) show off some of Japan's most beautiful natural features. (Photos: Boris15/Shutterstock and IgorGolovniov/Shutterstock)
A Brazilian caiman stars on this stamp from c. 1975. (Photo: a40757/Shutterstock)
A Brazilian stamp c. 1971 shows a beautiful blue butterfly. (Photo: rook76/Flickr)
The United States has a broad collection of nature and wildlife stamps, featuring: Columbia jays (c. 1967), a Northern cardinal (c. 1972), a wild turkey (c. 1956), and even a special National Parks Centennial illustration from c. 1972. (Photos: YANGCHAO/Shutterstock, Boris15/Shutterstock, and chrisdorney/Shutterstock)
“As stamps are miniature works of art, it's nearly impossible to collect them without gaining a large amount of knowledge," the American Philatelic Society points out.
Probably one of the easiest hobbies to start, all that's really required is a stamp (usually peeled off of a used envelope after soaking) and a place to store the stamps. Of course, many philatelists have quite the impressive arsenal of tools, from stamp tongs to magnifying glasses to watermark fluid to special gauges that measure the perforation around each stamp. It may seem extreme, but stamp collecting can be an extremely profitable undertaking – some of the world's rarest stamps are worth more than $2 million!
But their value goes far beyond monetary worth. "They tell stories of heroism, daring exploration and important scientific advancement," the website Learn About Stamps describes. "Stamps are miniature ambassadors that travel the world. A stamp from a distant land is a connection to its people and the way they live."
So, the next time you get a card in the mail that makes you smile, think twice before throwing out the envelope.
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