As collectors of used U.S. are beginning to collect whole envelopes to save used stamps on them, thanks to glue that is sometimes non-soluble in water - and when it is it often can't be removed without damage to the stamp - some are finding that the saved envelope, or cover in philatelic terms, offers its own pleasures. And some are finding that their interest in covers goes beyond current issues.
Those getting into their new area of philatelic collecting can be surprised to find the great variety of covers available, going back hundreds of years, including the pre-stamp era when markings and handstamps, not postage stamps, indicated postage paid, as well as routes and modes of carriage.
As they look to the Internet to add a variety of covers to their collections, they will find some pitfalls that those who collect only stamps don't encounter. In many cases it is the lack of a catalog, that thing that is the guide and keeper of order for stamp collectors, that is what is making some feel adrift. Still, that shouldn't mean that it's anything goes when it comes to buying and selling covers online. What's needed is honest dealers and knowledgeable collectors to assure that these philatelic transactions are win-win situations.