According to experts, stamp collecting began in 1774 when John Bourke, receiver-general of stamp duties in Ireland, formed a collection of fiscal stamps in an album.

Dr. Edward Gray of the British Museum began the first collection of adhesive postage stamps when he purchased a block of Penny Blacks on May 1, 1840. Gray later saved other stamps as they were issued and in 1863 published one of the first stamp catalogs.