American Topical Association

The American Topical Association (ATA) is a US-based philatelic society and the largest organization devoted to topical stamp collecting. It was established in 1949, and currently serves members in over 60 countries.[1] ATA publishes Topical Time, its bimonthly journal.[2] It also publishes numerous handbooks and maintains checklists of philatelic material organized by topics. The organization runs the National Topical Stamp Show as well as supporting 50+ study units on various topics and 40+ local chapters.[2]

The American Topical Association is an affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.


Topical Time is the official journal of the American Topical Association. It is a 92-page bi-monthly publication. It is available in both printed and electronic editions. The journal includes illustrated and informative topical articles, checklists and dealer advertising. Among the regular features in Topical Time are "Publication Reviews", "Postmark Pursuit", "Chapter Chatter", and "Units in Action".

ATA members receive six issues of Topical Time with each year of membership. Back issues of the journal are available for $5.00 each.Topical Time depends on its readers for articles. Therefore, all ATA members are welcome to submit manuscripts for publication consideration. To contact the editor please send all inquires and questions to the editor. Address your letter to : Topical Time, Wayne Youngblood, 705 Forest Glen Circle, Prairie du Sac, WI 53578-1077.[3]

ATA Affiliated Chapters

American Topical Association Chapters are geographical stamp clubs who have affiliated with the ATA. These chapters meet throughout the United States. There are a total of 25 chapters, including 5 Canadian and 4 international chapters located in Australia, Great Britain and South Africa.[4]

Distinguished Topical Philatelist Service Award

The Distinguished Topical Philatelist (DTP) designation is awarded for service to topical philately in general and to the ATA in particular. It was established in 1952 by ATA's founder Gerry Husak and has been presented to over 120 individuals, including residents of Canada, Great Britain, Italy, and the United States, since its inception. This is the most prestigious award given by the ATA.[5]

ATA's National Topical Stamp Show

This ATA-sponsored annual show features an all-thematic philatelic exhibition and a 30+ dealer bourse offering a variety of philatelic material for collectors. In addition several cachet makers offer their distinctive and unique covers. There are also many meetings, seminars, youth activities, free stamp appraisals and special touring events. The picture below is of the ATA table at New York 2016 World Stamp Show Exhibition which was held at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Vera Felts, the Executive Director of the ATA can be seen on the left hand side of the photo. [6]

ATA Handbooks

Over the years the ATA has published a wide variety of topical handbooks covering many areas.

The ATA released in August 2014 a new Insects on Stamps handbook, as well as a DVD, with stamps listed by country and scientific classification. The book, in convenient six-by-nine inch spiral-bound format, includes all insect stamps from 2003 to 2013.

Also published in 2014 was a comprehensive handbook, Plants on Stamps. The handbook is available as a spiral-bound book, or electronically on a DVD. The electronic version includes the four previous plants handbooks, beginning with stamps issued prior to 1959, and following through to the new book. It also includes Orchids on Stamps. Editor Chris Dahle, an active philatelic botanist, noted that the electronic version allows users to search by country, as well as plant family, making the reference flexible.

For collectors of presidents on stamps, the ATA released its seventh in the long-running Presidential series written by Melvin Morris. This handbook will be of special interest to collectors of Americana, U.S. presidents, Black history on stamps, and politically-related philatelic issues. It covers the period of time between Obama's announcement of his intent to run for U.S. President and his selection as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in late 2009. This guide consists of 96 full-color illustrated pages, with eight short chapters and 113 high-quality illustrations. Stamps from 30 different countries are listed and illustrated. Chapter titles include "Senator Obama's, Free Franks," "Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize," "The Coming of 'Bo' Obama," and "Michelle Obama Stamps." This handbook will be a fine visual reference for philatelic bookshelves.

Morris was the editor of Americana Philatelic News, newsletter of ATA's Americana Unit, from 1992 thru 2009. He is a retired high school and college teacher and was an editor for Grolier's Encyclopedia International. His collecting interests include U.S. Presidents and dogs on stamps. His brief biography in the Obama handbook relates the story of how he collected stamps before he was born![7]

Topicals Online

Another valuable resource is the ability to add to a topical collections is by accessing the ATA's online sale site. TopicalsOnLine is a service of the American Topical Association to promote thematic stamp collecting through online sales, It offers:

ATA Checklists

The ATA is the world's leading supplier of topical stamp checklists. Checklists are one of the many benefits of membership in the ATA. The Association offers approximately 1200 checklists on topics ranging from Abacus to Zoos. It also can develop a customized list on almost any topic. The database includes more than 600,000 stamps and other philatelic items. For an example click here

ATA Study Unit Program

The American Topical Association is composed of members who specialize in thematic or topical philatelic collecting. Those who share a specific topic to form "study units." These units promote their specific topic and encourage research on that topic. These groups then affiliate with the ATA to receive various benefits including a free review of their journal in Topical Time, the bi-monthly publication of the ATA. The units are eligible for a free meeting room during the annual National Topical Stamp Show (NTSS). The study unit receives free publicity in ATA listings, literature and press releases. There are at present over 50 individual units covering a large diverse group of areas from Americana on stamps to Wine on Stamps. These individual groups produce their own journals (either online versions or printed). The information contained in these publications adds to the knowledge base of topical collecting. To see a list of Study Units click here

Topical Exhibiting

For those interested in seeing what a topical exhibit looks like please click on the link below to explore the wonderful world of Topical exhibiting. Also include on this page is a checklist of what building a topical exhibit should include.


  1. "The History of the American Topical Association". American Topical Association. 2004. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  2. 1 2 "Benefits of ATA Membership". American Topical Association. 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  3. "American Topical Association Topical Time". Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  4. "American Topical Association Chapters". Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  5. "American Topical Association Info for Study Unit Affiliation". Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  6. "American Topical Association Home Page". Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  7. "American Topical Association Handbooks". Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  8. "Welcome to TopicalsOnLine". ATA TopicalsOnLine. Retrieved 2016-04-16.

External links

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