By Daniel McAdam.
Topical or thematic stamp collecting, which used to be considered rather frivolous by "serious" stamp collectors, has grown in popularity over the past several years, no doubt in part because it is not serious and is a simple pleasure easily engaged in by just about anyone. One collects stamps built around a certain theme - anything from butterflies to mountain climbing to paintings. Naturally, there is also thematic postage stamp collecting related to music and, more specifically, classical music.
There are no shortages of ideas here, and "music," by itself, would probably be too broad a theme. There are, for instance, over 600 postage stamps bearing images of musical instruments, and over 1,600 stamps related to musicians and/or songs. Naturally, many of these would have to do with non-classical topics or personages (there are over 300 Elvis stamps), but classical composers and performers are far from ignored. Here are a few numbers:
Mozart - at least 193 stamps.
Beethoven - at least 173 stamps.
Violin family of musical instruments - at least 323 postage stamps.
Thus, one could easily build an interesting stamp collection focusing on just one composer, or one musical instrument, or one performer, or any combination thereof. We've mentioned postage stamps, but there are also souvenir sheets issued by post offices, as well as philatelic covers and the like. Perhaps one of the best things about thematic collecting is that there is no great pressure to achieve completion; one collects what one wishes, and one adds to it when one sees fit.
The American Topical Association is, as it's name implies, devoted to topical collecting, and has a helpful website.
If you are wondering what souvenir sheets and philatelic covers are, a visit to D. J. McAdam's Philatelic Terms page is in order.
We have a page with information on caring for one's stamp collection.
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