The American Topical Association (ATA) was founded in 1949 to bring together people who enjoy collecting postage stamps by topics. Throughout ATA’s history, that mission has not changed, but ATA has grown as topical collecting has become one of the most popular areas of philately.
Through its numerous programs and services, ATA has encouraged beginning, as well as experienced, topical enthusiasts to collect, research, study and share their topics. Members have enthusiastically shared knowledge and research and have encouraged others.
Another important aspect of ATA is to hold competitive exhibitions, where topical philatelists can display their work. The ATA holds the only all-thematic stamp exhibition in the U.S. each year.
ATA members know that topical collecting takes them on adventures with much to be learned and enjoyed every step of the way. That is why the ATA’s official motto is About The Adventure.
It’s easy to get started! People often choose a topic related to their profession or hobby. That is why ships, railroads, birds, flowers and cats have been among the most popular topics for over 70 years. Topical collecting offers the opportunity to collect colorful stamps with beautiful artwork. A look at the checklist section of this website will offer insights into the many topics people collect.
Another aspect of topical collecting is that there are no rules as to how to collect. One topicalist will collect mint stamps, while another chooses used stamps or a combination of new and used. One collector will acquire stamps for a broad topic, such as amphibians, while another will focus on a narrower topic, such as frogs.
ATA offers a spectrum of services for newcomers, as well as experienced collectors. Browse the membership section of this website to see a list of many of the services. We frequently hear from our members that the camaraderie among topical collectors is one of the greatest benefits of membership. We are sure that you will find ATA welcoming and a fun organization.
Let’s look at a few important services:
The ATA’s award-winning journal, Topical Time, offers how-to articles, features on many topics and news of programs and events for topical collectors. Browse a sample issue in the Topical Time section of this website.
The ATA has developed the most comprehensive database of topically-indexed stamps in the world. Members have access (for a nominal fee) to lists of stamps that match a huge variety of topics. For example, if you are interested in trains, you can request a checklist of locomotives on stamps. This checklist (with over 2500 items listed) will give you a guide to train engines depicted on stamps. Checklists are available for topics as broad as "birds" and as specific as "cranberries." The database is constantly updated and members are entitled to annual updates for the lists they purchase.
The ATA publishes handbooks on popular topics, as well as general topical reference works. The publications are available to the public and members enjoy discounts on handbooks and digital publications.
In 2020, handbook #168 was released. Topical Adventures – A Guide to Topical and Thematic Stamp Collecting, is a comprehensive guide to topical collecting. Philatelic terms are explained and there is an overview of exhibiting. The book is lavishly illustrated, with many colorful stamp images. It is available online and at many stamp shows.
Shows, Seminars & Exhibitions
Topical collectors and exhibitors gather throughout the year for a variety of meetings and programs. Stamp Shows offer opportunities to share information and interesting stamp acquisitions and socialize. The annual ATA show brings together topical collectors from all over the world.
Get Started Now!
For more information about membership and the benefits of belonging to the American Topical Association, please visit our membership page. Options are available for individual, family, youth and international memberships.