first issues > how to collect

How to collect first issues

Let's make this clear: it is entirely up to you how and what you will collect. 
What we intend to do here is to give you ideas, such that you may form your own opinion. Maybe this is what you need to get started.

Perhaps we should first give a few reasons why you would collect first issues as opposed to any other collection area. 
Simply by being first we (often) know which ones they are and how many there are. Allthough there are new first issues emerging every year they are still few and far between. Therefore, the total number of first issues is limited and does not grow as fast as the number of regular issues. We count perhaps 7-800 entities that has ever issued stamps and we probably could count at least double that if we knew of all the local issues that are, or were once, in existence. Still, the number is, if not finite, then at least of a controllable size. 
First issues can also be interesting for many other reasons. They may be old, designed or printed using primitive tools or on surprising materials. They may be short lived because of production difficulties, errors in design or a number of other reasons. 
It also has a certain ring to it: first issues. On par with biggest, fastest, smartest and best!

You may think that first issues "are very expensive stamps that are more than a hundred years old". Not necessarily so! There are plenty of inexpensive first issues, in spite of the fact that many of them are more than a hundred years old! There's also a lot of first issues that are less than a hundred years old. A lot of new countries were formed after World War I and II, for example, and a lot of African nations have become independent in the last 50 years or so. Obviously there are also some very expensive first issues, but fortunately you don't have to collect them. Actually, it is probably not worth it to have a complete collection (whatever that is) as a goal - several first issues are very rare, some are unique and some you may not be able to buy even if you had the money.

Here are some ideas for you to ponder:

Believe it or not, this is just the beginning. We didn't even mention offices abroad, local stamps, military stamps, occupation issues and all the other Back-of-the-Book issues! 
Allthough the main focus of FICC are the following issues (using Scott catalog numbers):

we must stress again: you are the one to decide. And we hope that it is you who will help make this web site usefull to you and the rest of us. You can do so by letting us know what you think, want and collect.

Last, but not least, remember that the first philatelists, or stamp collectors, collected only first issues - simply because those were the only stamps available at the time! It is generally believed that stamp collecting began sometime around 1860, almost 20 years after the worlds first stamp was issued, by Great Britain, in 1840. At that time only around 85 countries or other entities had issued stamps at all (according to our list), and Great Britain had issued only 29 stamps in those 20 years. Today the number of stamp issuing entities, past and present, far exceeds 700, with a total number of stamps issued exceeding 600,000 according to some sources (who counted all those stamps?).


Page created 17 Nov 2015 Page updated 29 May 2016