It all started with the "general collection". Each collector sought to have in his album a set of postage stamps from all over the world. Already in the 80s of the last century, there appeared the first fanciers, specializing their collections on individual countries or groups of countries, that have started to explore individual issues. But it soon became obvious that no one can afford to build the "whole world" collection. So, finally at the present moment in philately there are allocated separate branches - the spheres of philately.
Since the beginning of this century, the number of stamp outlets have begun to grow rapidly. However, both groups of collectors those, who were generalizing and those, who have chosen their specialty - still tried to have all possible stamps in a set, regardless of whether it was about the "whole world" or some particular country.
After the First World War there was a lot of new states, occupied territories and the territories, whose fate depended on the upcoming plebiscite. Inflation was rampant. Dramatically increased the number of postage stamps. One issue was literally following another. It became harder and harder to complete collections. With the establishment of a regular airmail service, there appeared a new branch of collectibles - avia-philately: collecting airmail items, documented with the stamps, applicable for these cases, collecting postage stamps, commemorative stamps and envelopes, collecting the zeppelins stamps and the stamps from the mail, that was carried by airships. After the World War II there was added collecting stamps and envelopes, that were used in the helicopter air mail, as well as the items, that were delivered during the flight tests. Around 1925, some collectors started collecting stamps not by country, but by the themes, expressed in their drawings. For twenty years they were contemptuously called "the collectors of pictures," and no one was recognizing their right to be called "philatelists".
Although it is difficult to display a philatelic research results in the thematic collection, it can still serve as a valuable informative material. This property appears already in the process of material selection. If the collector is intending to create a collection, that is more than a simple selection of stamps on the basis of the same subject or group of subjects, if he wants to ensure that his collection will be "speaking", he has already in the process of working to study the specialized literature on the subject. Deep studies are making collector to refresh the old and to gain the new knowledge. And the viewer, unprepared in the philatelic matters, is getting much more when he is "reading" such a collection of stamps, than he could get when he was looking only at the usual chronological collection.
In 1945, there appeared another sphere of philately - the documentary collecting. Here the stamp is no longer the only object of gathering. Documentary collections are designed to display - with the greatest possible accuracy - the history of some country or some city in a certain period of time. In addition to the stamps, envelopes and other postal materials, this collections usually are including the newspaper clippings, photographs, promotional cards, posters, white papers and everything else, which is typical for this topic. By the way, this sphere of philatelic gathering may also include collections, that have as s subject the postal history, and that consist solely of the postal cards, postal documents, pictures of the uniform of postal workers and special vehicles.
Special branch of philately is collecting the "maximum cards" (also called "maxi-cards"), which has been practiced for more than sixty years. Collecting these cards is particularly popular in France, Italy, Poland, Scandinavia, Belgium and in the United States.
The maxi-card must meet the following requirements: drawing on the card and the image on a postage stamp should be the same and, moreover, as far as possible the object depicted on the postcard and the stamp must be shown in the same way. The first care of philatelists who have this type of collectibles, is seeking for the appropriate card when a new stamp appears. This issue becomes relatively simple in the case when the stamp there is given the reproduction of some painting, since many of them are also reproduced on the postcards.
Stamp has to be fixed with the glue in any front corner of the postcard and it must be quenched. At the same time there must be satisfied the strict condition - the quenching stamp must be relevant to both: the picture on a postcard and the picture on a stamp. For example, on a maxi-card, with the portrait of some famous person there can be made a stamp of the place of his birth, death or long years of residence. It is desirable, that the quenching will be made with some special commemorative stamps. For the maxi-cards with a picture of architecture and related subjects there can be applied a stamp of the point where these buildings are located. If on the maxi-card there is shows any particular ship, it is best to extinguish it with the stamp of the marine post office.
Stamps on the letters and other printed products with marks of the postal payment are also attracting attention of many collectors. Letters and other products, related to the mail service are pretty good as a means of revitalizing any collection.
So, that's how philatelists all over the world are engaged in gathering their collections. Among them one is rarely even similar to another, since there is not much things, that are carrying such a dramatic imprint of personality, as a collection of postage stamps. The differences begin with the subject of collecting and end with the quantity and richness of the material. If you do not take into account the minimum requirements, that have to be met by any exhibited collection, then there are no "proprietary rules" of how it should be built. For this reason, our review was intended only to show in the most general terms, how and what can be collected by philatelists. There is probably no way to write a full review, because after the birth of a thematic collecting, in the philately there appeared too many roads, and they are all different.