Stamp collectors and those interested in the world of stamp collecting can gain a great deal of information and meet fellow collectors through the American Philatelic Society (APS). The organization began in 1886 with 219 interested parties willing to pay 25 cents (0.25 US Dollars) for a vote in the organization. It now represents more than 110 countries and has over 44,000 members. This non-profit society supports itself through membership dues, donations, and sales of publications and services.
The goals of the organization include promotion of stamp collecting as a hobby and assisting members in acquiring stamp collecting materials. It also represents the U.S. in the worldwide field of philately. Services provided by the society include providing knowledge and education to those interested, and it also coordinates programs for collectors.
Members of the American Philatelic Society receive the society’s monthly journal, access to an online stamp store, and the use of reference materials related to stamp collecting. The society offers seminars to its members, a mentoring program, and discounts on stamp insurance. Other benefits include the ability to buy and sell stamps through APS Mail Sales Circuits and access to expert opinions from the APS Expertizing Service.
Membership is available on an annual or lifetime basis and varies according to the country of residence. Discounts apply to spouses or dependents of members. The group has chapters in many U.S. cities and states, but each is a separate organization that offers individual services to its particular members.
As an organization, the group sponsors many stamp shows, ranging from one-day local club events to several-day international exhibitions. These shows provide opportunities for buying and selling philatelic material, attending educational events, and meeting fellow collectors. The August American Philatelic Society Show is the largest annual national show and often features over 100 dealers, multiple meetings of national societies, and dozens of educational seminars. The location of the show rotates each year to various regions of the U.S.
The American Philatelic Society also has many programs to promote children’s interest in stamp collecting. Stamp clubs, publications, student letter exchange, and world-wide pen pals are a few of the programs. The national headquarters is in State College, Pennsylvania.