Saturday, December 20, 2008

Origins of the word "Philately"

Recently the Oxford University Press's website selected "philately" as its word of the day.

The write-up by Charles Hodgson says, "The word 'philately' was invented by a French stamp collector named George Herpin and proposed in a French stamp collecting magazine in 1864."

"The phil- in philately is the same as in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, or in audiophile a lover of high end stereo equipment. The second half of the word 'philately' comes from the Greek 'ateleia' writes Hodgson.

Hodgson doesn't think the word is an apt description.

He points out, "There's an interesting contrast between the image of a bespectacled stamp collector and a revolutionary in the streets, flaming torch in hand, demanding the overthrow of the tax hungry government."

Hodgson goes on to say, "According to an 1876 edition of the magazine Philatelist, 'timbromania' was the earlier word that Herpin was attempting to oust."

Based on the French word for stamp, "Timbrophily" and "Timbrology" were also suggested.

Apparently it only took a year before the French word crossed the English Channel to show up as an English word in 1865 says Hodgson.

To read his entire piece, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM