Collecting Rock Stamps

Rock and Fossil Stamps of the United States

The United States Post Office has not been a prolific producer of mineral specimen stamps compared to some other countries, but the eight that have been issued do US rockhounds proud. The United States has issued other stamps topical to the interests and subjects of the earth sciences, including stamps depicting US volcanoes and other mountains, the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, prehistoric mammals and dinosaurs, and US silver and gold centennials, and others.

Check out the topical catalog page for the United States, featuring thumbnail images with links to higher resolution, 300 dpi scans of each stamp.

Mineral Stamps from Around the World

Many other countries have issued gem, mineral, fossil, mining and other stamps with subjects appealing to rockhounds. The number of collectable stamps of interest issued by various countries numbers in the hundreds, if not thousands. Particularly notable are the extensive commemorative sets depicting mineral specimens and mining which have been issued over the years by a number of African governments, some of which have already been outlived by their stamps.

Shown far left is a stibium (stibnite?) stamp, which was issued as one of a set of 6 mineral stamps of various denominations by Romania on October 28, 1985. Included in this set are a 50b quartz with calcite (Scott 3324), a 1l copper (3325), a 2l gypsum (3326), a 3l quartz (3327), the 41 stibnite that's shown (3328), and a 5l tetrahedrite.

Center left is a rather gemmy azurite that's on one of a set of 15 mineral and mine stamps of various denominations issued by Namibia on January 2nd, 1991. This set included a 1c gypsum (Scott 674), a 2c fluorite (675), a 5c mimetite (676), the 10c azurite shown (677), an 18c cuprite (678), a 20c dioptase (679), a 25c Oranjemund mine (680), a 30c Tsumeb mine (681), a 35c Rosh Pinah mine (682), a 40c diamond (683), a 50c Uis mine (684), a 65c boltwoodite (685), a 1r Rossing mine (686), a 1.50r wulfenite (687), a 2r gold (688), and a 5r willemite (689).

Center is a 10c + 10c fluorite (Scott B273) which is one of 4 rock stamps issued by Switzerland on May 31st, 1958. I dunno... I've seen yellow fluorite crystals but the mineral specimen depicted on the stamp looks an awfully lot like pyrite to me! A 20c + 10c ammonite (B274), a 30c + 10c garnet (B275) and a 40c + 10c quartz (B276) were the other three. The 10c surtax was for needy mothers.

Shown center right is a cubic galena which was issued as one of a set of 15 mineral stamps of various denominations by Kenya on December 13th, 1977. Included in this set are a 10c gypsum (Scott 98), a 20c trona (99), a 30c kyanite (100), a 40c amazonite (101), the 50c galena that's shown (102), a 70c silicified wood (103), an 80c fluorite (104), a 1sh amethyst (105), a 1.5sh agate (106), a 2sh tourmaline (107), a 3sh aquamarine (108), a 5sh rhodolite garnet (109), a 10 sh sapphire (110), a 20sh ruby (111), and a 40sh green grossular garnet (112).

Shown far right is a halite stamp that's one of a set of 6 mineral stamps issued by Germany, DDR on February 22, 1972. This rather attractive set included a 5pf gypsum (Scott 1354), a 10pf zinnwaldite (1355), a 20pf malachite (1356), a 25pf amethyst (1357), the 35pf halite shown (1358), and a 50pf proustite (1359).

The Shop owes a special debt to contributor John Hopkins of Adairsville, Georgia, who very generously sent the Shop a large number of duplicates of rock stamps in his own collection (some of John's "duplicates" included several complete, mint foreign sets). The stamps supplied by John were inspirational and they will serve as the nucleus of the Shop's on-line collection and catalog. Thanks, John!

If you're seriously interested in collecting rock stamps, here's an organization that you definitely want to join:

Chartered June 29, 1976 by the American Topical Association

Topical stamp collecting is promoted by The American Topical Association, founded in 1949. The Gems, Minerals and Jewelry Study Unit is an ATA chartered special interest group with a world-wide membership that collects and studies stamps depicting gems, minerals, fossils, jewelry, mining, and other Earth Science related topics and subjects.

If you have an interest in rock stamps, the GMJSU would like to send you a complimentary sample issue of their quarterly newsletter, Philagems International. To request a sample issue of PI, send an email message with your snail address to their secretary treasurer, George Young, or editor Mary Chandler,

GMJSU Information, Activities and Membership Benefits

Want to hobnob and network with the rock stamp collecting elite? Here's a GMJSU application (ASCII text file) for you to download, print, fill out and mail in with your dues. Just Do It!

If you'd like to try doing a little on-line rock stamp collecting, here's some links to get you started.

Keimar Stamps
Albany Stamp Company
Joseph Luft's Philatelic Resources on the Web
M. Osborne Covers
Yahoo's Stamp Collecting Index

Mineralogical Meanderings

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Bob Keller