How many Scout Stamps are there? This might be the first thing you might ask. There are now over 1500 [1977 total] Boy and Girl Scout [Guide] stamps issued by over 100 different countries. New Scout Stamps are issued every year by one country or another. 25th, 50th, and 60th anniversaries, National and international jamborees are typical events that are commemorated or honored. Single stamps, sets and souvenir sheets are issued.
Are they expensive? An important question if you are, say 12 years old and must pay for the stamps yourself. Some Scout Stamps, especially the older ones, are very expensive. Most of the most recent issues however cost 10-25 cents a stamp or $1.00 to $3.00 for a complete mint set. Short sets (sets in which the expensive high values are missing) cost a lot less. Likewise, used Scout Stamps also are less expensive. Sometimes great bargains are available on whole groups of Scout Stamps from a dealer, collector or auction. Ads for this kind of bargain, and others, often appear in the SOSSI JOURNAL. They are placed by dealers who specialize in Scout Stamps. In addition, the SOSSI Sales Service offers Scout Stamps and cachets for sale. Remember though, buying good stamps and caring for them properly, is more like putting money in the bank than spending your allowance or earnings on candy bars.
On the other hand, for the collector who might want to invest in Scout Stamps the opportunity is certainly there. Over the years, dozens and dozens of older issues have increased in value 10 times, 50 times and even more. Many new issues double in value within a year. A few choice Scout stamps can cost $1000. and are as solid an investment as classic U.S. stamps.
Where can I get them? Scout Stamps may be purchased from most any stamp store, or you can obtain them from stamp dealers by writing away for them. As mentioned above, there are dealers who specialize in Scout Stamps and their ads appear in the SOSSI JOURNAL. Additionally, in the Journal there are frequent auctions of Scout Stamps as well as monthly sales announced in the SOSSI Sales Service.
Is there an album to put Scout Stamps in? Yes! Attractive printed pages for all Scout Stamps are available commercially and are advertised elsewhere in the Journal. Many collectors prefer to mount their Scout Stamps on blank quadruled pages using their own layout and write up.
Is there a checklist or catalog of Scout Stamps? Yes and Yes! A special illustrated catalog of all Scout Stamps,"Scouts on Stamps of the World," [7th edition, 1986] is now online. Annual checklists and album supplements from several commercial sources appear advertised in the SOSSI Journal. The latest Scout Stamps are listed and discussed each month in the Journal and at the New Scout Stamps page at the SOSSI website.
What about Stamp Exhibits? Many important Scout Stamp collections have been assembled that have won gold medals in national and international competition. You can find out more about developing your own exhibit, and view two exhibits online at our special Scout Exhibits section.
Briefly, what about the stamps themselves? The first stamps considered to be Scout Stamps were issued in 1900 from the Cape of Good Hope. [Find out more about the "classics"] The three stamps pictured Baden-Powell,the founder, and a boy messenger on a bicycle. The first stamps issued after Scouting actually started in 1907 were a pair from Czechoslovakia in 1918. The first stamp to actually picture a Scout was issued by Hungary in 1925. It was part of a set of sports stamps.
Siam overprinted 19 stamps for their "Wild Tiger" or Boy Scouts in 1919 and 1920. Romania issued 5 full sets of semi-postal stamps during the 1930s; all honoring Scouts. Hungary was the first to honor a World Jamboree with a set of 5 stamps in 1933. Again in 1939 it was the first to recognize Girl Scouts on stamps.
Through 1941, these stamps and just a few others, were all that had been issued in 40 years and are considered the classics of Scouts on stamps. 1941-9 saw 17 more Scout Stamps issued from 11 more countries. By 1949 something new was happening to the hobby of stamp collecting. People were beginning to collect by topic as well as by country. By 1952 Scout Stamp collectors had formally started the Scouts on Stamps Society. Meanwhile, in 1950, the first U.S.Boy Scout Stamp broke all records for first day sales. Another 27 Scout Stamps were issued between 1950-1956.
1957 was the 50th Anniversary of Scouting. No less than 59 Scout Stamps were issued that year; as many as had been issued in the previous 20 years all together. Popularity of Scout Stamps soared, as did the value to the early issues, and the hobby was never the same. Country after country, recognizing the demand, issued Scout Stamps with increasing regularity. Many times since then over 60 Scout Stamps have been issued in a single year.
Do I have to be a Scout to collect Scouts on Stamps? The Scouts on Stamps Society International is a nonprofit organization composed of philatelists who specialize in stamps and other philatelic material related to the Boy and Girl Scout movements. Although the majority of its members belong to some Boy or Girl Scout Association, or have at some time been related to Scouting, SOSSI is a philatelic society, completely independent of any of the World Scout Associations, and not a Scouting organization. You are invited to join us!
What are some ways to collect Scouts on Stamps? Along with the stamps themselves, interest in Scout First Day Covers, Postcards, and Scout stamp and event cachet covers developed. Scout cancellations also became a very popular field.
Today, nice collections can be built in many different ways. For example, you might choose to save only new issues and selected older ones; or you just might save stamps to honor World Jamborees. Some collectors just save covers. Others specialize in Scout Cancels from around the world. Or just use your imagination. A jamboree badge and related stamps with your own write-up makes a beautiful home made album page.
All in all, Scout Stamp Collecting is truly an excellent way to combine your interest in stamp collecting with that of Scouting.