The origins of philately are to be found in individuals becoming fascinated by stamps in the mid nineteenth century. Very early collectors could aspire to collect an example of every stamp ever issued. As postal services expanded and stamps became more numerous, collectors started to limit their collections, for example to the British Commonwealth, so as still to strive for completeness.
An attractive aspect of philately is its global reach. Consequently in the mid twentieth century interest grew in how mail moved around the world. Collectors began to focus their collecting away from the stamp to the whole envelope (known to collectors as a cover) which combined stamps with postmarks, postal instructions such as “By Airmail” and in wartime censor marks and rare shipping routes when ships and aircraft were diverted around areas of conflict.
Inevitably social disturbance, caused by wars, natural and manmade catastrophes are reflected in the postal services of the time and now provide keenly sought “trophies” for collectors.