For the correct selection of philatelic material it is prerequisited  the correct philatelic knowledge. The collector should know all the variety of the existing postal/philatelic material, as well as to distinguish what is really philatelic and what not.

 For the facilitation of the new thematic collectors we appose so much the related Guidelines of the International Philatelic Federation (FIP), as much as the relevant detailed depicted examples of allowed or not allowed material. The collectors should be looking for by "clicking" upon any word referred to each kind of material.

  The related article of the Guidelines for the Evaluation of the Thematic Exhibits in the FIP exhibitions says:

  • 3.1.1 A thematic exhibit uses the widest range of appropriate postal-philatelic material (ref. GREV Art 3.2).
    Appropriate postal-philatelic material is that which, for the purpose of transmitting mail or other postal communications, has been issued, intended for issue, or produced in the preparation for issue, used, or treated as valid for postage by governmental, local or private postal agencies, or by other duly commissioned or empowered authorities.

    Appropriate postal-philatelic material has the following characteristics:

  • postal franking items (stamps -mint, used or on covers-, booklets, postal stationery cards, aerograms, franking meters, computer vended postage e.g. FRAMA labels) and their modifications (e.g. overprints, surcharges and punch-perforations, as shown by "perfins". However modified items are not to be included if the modification distracts from the original theme (e.g. by making it no longer visible); they may be used for the theme(s) related to the modification.

  • postal cancellations. like ordinary, slogan (advertising, propagandistic) commemorative and other special postmarks),

  • stamps, cancellations, marks and/or cards indicating a postage privilege   (e.g. authorities, military),

  • other items used in the postal operations, such as registration's labels, postal routes labels and markings, supplementary labels or markings (e.g. censorships, disinfection, crash mail), mail delivery dockets, replay coupons, forwarding agents markings, postal automation markings and labels, etc. Where applicable, these items should be on the relevant document.

  • items "intended for issues, or produced in the preparation for an issue", e.g.  essays and proofs of artist, proofs of colour, proofs of printing, varieties and errors.

  • revenue stamps are admitted as long as they are postally used or have postage validity. Revenue stamps for fiscal purposes are admitted in exceptional cases, when they are the only mean to describe an important thematic point.

(We may also inquire thematic information in the stamp margins, the watermarks, as well as into texts on the gum that sometimes appear on the reverse of the stamps).

Time frame:

Postal material from the pre-stamp era, through the classic period, to the present day.

Postal Services:

in addition to the normal transmission of mail, specific types, e.g. (postage free) service- and military- post, including Airgraphs and V-mail;

maritime, railway or airmail of any type;

prisoners of war and concentration camp mail;

parcel post and freight post postal payment service;

private post, authorised or tolerated by the official authorities, or active in total absence of an official post.

Under "other postal communications" are included other forms of postal services, like pneumatic post, telegrams, electronic mail (i.e. message sent electronically to a Post Office where it is printed out and delivered to an addressee), etc.

Inappropriate Material  (under construction)

The following items are inappropriate:-

  • fantasy issues from non-existent postal territories, issues of exiled governments or organisations without postal services

  • private additional cancellations applied by a sender or a supplier before mailing the documents

  •  picture postcards, unless they are postal stationery produced by a Postal Authority

  • private additional prints on postal stationery (also known as “repiquages”)

  • administrative marks (not postal), when they do not give any postal privilege

  • private decorations on envelopes and cards

  • private vignettes (advertising labels), whatever the purpose of their use.


Border-line material

The variety of postal services and regulations in different countries and their evolution over time make it impossible to define a list encompassing all possible situations. Some items only follow to a certain extent the above definitions of appropriate or inappropriate material; therefore they should be used mainly when no other material is available to describe a specific thematic detail.

When included in the exhibit, they should always be supported by a thorough philatelic justification.

Items belonging to the specific philatelic culture of a theme, a country or a region can be tolerated as much as they are justified and their number is proportional to the degree of elaboration of the exhibit.