Word Origin & History
"stamp-collecting," 1865, coined by Fr. stamp collector Georges Herpin (in "Le Collectionneur de Timbres-poste," Nov. 15, 1864), from Gk. phil- "loving" + ateleia "exemption from tax," the closest word he could find in ancient Gk. to the concept of "postage stamp" (from a- "without" + telos "tax"). A
reminder of the original function of postage stamps, now often forgotten: the cost of letter-carrying formerly was paid by the recipient; stamps indicated it had been pre-paid by the sender, thus the letters were "carriage-free."