Stamp collecting is among the most popular hobbies in the world.
A popular way to collect stamps is to build a "topical collection." Many people collect stamps worldwide featuring butterflies, inventions, coins, maps, elephants, art work, almost anything.The "Mormon" topical collection is a small, but growing series of at least 19 stamps, postcards, and cancellations issued between 1944 and 1993 by eight countries - the USA, Brazil, Nicaragua, Rarotonga, Sweden, Samoa, Saint Vincent and Tonga.
Two Mormons are featured in the series (the inventor Philo Farnsworth and Rarotongan missionary Elder Osborne J.P. Widtsoe) and four temples (Salt Lake, Samoan, Swedish, and Tongan). Other appropriate subjects are the seagull, the sego lily (twice), the Utah state flag which includes the beehive symbol, the centennial of the Mormon pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, meetinghouses in Rarotonga and Samoa, and Mickey Mouse on Temple Square.
Chronologically, the stamps are as follows:
- Completion of the transcontinental railroad, 1869 (1944): This 75th anniversary stamp fits the collection because the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads joined in 1869 in Utah Territory and had an impact on the Mormons. It made it easier for members to immigrate to Salt Lake City and provided business for Mormon contractors who built some of the roadbeds.
- The Pioneer Centennial, 1847-1947 (1947): This stamp commemorated the centennial of the arrival of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. It featured the famous utterance attributed to Brigham Young: "This is the place."
- Samoan Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) (1970): This stamp, featuring a Mormon meetinghouse, celebrated the eighth anniversary of Samoan independence of 1962. Previously, Samoa had been ruled by Germany, New Zealand, the League of Nations, and the United Nations. Other stamps in the series commemorated the Seventh Day Adventist Sanatorium, Father Violette of the Roman Catholic church, and John Williams of the London Missionary Society Church.
- Coro del Tabernaculo Mormon (1975): Nicaragua issued a series of 11 stamps featuring "Grandes Coros del Mundo," or "Great Choirs of the World" and included the Tabernacle Choir. The subjects also included King's College Choir of Cambridge, Abbey Choir of Einseideln, Regensburgh Choir, Vienna Boys Choir, Choir of the Sistine Chapel, Westminster Cathedral Choir, Choir of the Abbey of Montserrat, St. Florian Boys Choir, Little Singers of the Wooden Cross, and Pueri Cantores. The series also featured a quote by Pope John XXII, "The spirit of God is the soul of music."
- U.S. state flags (1976): During the Bicentennial, a full sheet of 50 stamps was issued featuring the state flag of all the United States. The Utah state flag displays two important Mormon symbols - the beehive and sego lilies. The beehive represents, among other things, the industry and order of the Mormon community. It is commonly used in Mormon art and architecture. The root of the sego lily supplemented the Mormon pioneers' food supply in the spring of 1848.
- Salt Lake Temple/historic preservation (1980): The U.S. Postal Service issued a 10-cent multicolored postal card featuring the Salt Lake Temple. This was the fourth postal card in the Historic Preservation Series that featured historically significant American buildings. The three previous issues celebrated the Galveston, Texas, Court House; the Cincinnati, Ohio, Music Hall; and the Iloani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- U.S. state birds and flowers (1982): This issue, like the flag series of 1976, is unusual in that a sheet of 50 stamps was issued featuring the state birds and flowers of all the United States. Again, important Mormon symbols - the California Gull and sego lily - appeared on the Utah stamp. The California Gull's place in the history of the Church was set when the birds saved the crops of settlers in the Salt Lake Valley from a plague of crickets in 1848.
- American inventors (1983): Four stamps honoring American inventors were issued. The inventors were Charles Steinmetz for electrical theories, Nikola Tesla for the induction motor, Edwin Armstrong for frequency modulation and Philo T. Farnsworth for the first television camera. Farnsworth (1906-71) was the first Mormon ever to appear on any stamp.
- Handcart cancellation (1983): The cancellation honored the handcart pioneers who passed through Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Florence, Neb., in 1856. The cancellation carried a postmark from Kanesville Station, Council Bluffs, Iowa.
- Swedish Mormon temple cancellation (1985): To commemorate the dedication of the Swedish Temple by President Gordon B. Hinkley in Vasterhaninge, Sweden, located 13 miles southeast of Stockholm, Sweden issued a postal cancellation reading "Vasterhaninge Mormon templet i Norden 2/7/85" or "The Vasterhaninge Mormon Temple of the North, 1985."
- Brazilian Mormon Temple cancellation (1985): Brazil commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Brazilian (Mormon) Mission by issuing a postal cancellation featuring the Angel Moroni.
- Centenary of the arrival of the LDS in Samoa (1988): This beautiful stamp and souvenir sheet featured the temple in Apia.
- Seagull Monument (1990): Saint Vincent issued an eight-stamp Walt Disney series featuring well-known landmarks in the United States such as Mount Vernon, Lincoln Memorial and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Among the stamps in this series was one featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse feeding a seagull on Temple Square.
- Osborne Widtsoe Mormon missionary (1990): The Cook Islands government issued a four-stamp "Religions of the Cook Islands" series, commemorating the first meetinghouse and the first missionary of four different faiths. Along with Elder Widtsoe were stamps commemorating the Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists and the London Missionary Society.
- Tongan Mormon Temple cancellation (1991): The South Pacific island of Tonga commemorated the centennial of the first Mormons in Tonga by issuing a special temple cancellation.
16-17. Tongan Temple (1991): At the same time the temple cancellation was issued, Tonga printed two stamps featuring the temple.
- Salt Lake Temple Centennial cancellation (1993): In 1993, a special postal cancellation commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Salt Lake Temple was issued by the U. S. Postal Service. The postmark design was based on the original postmark of 1893.
- ZCMI celebrating 125 years cancellation (1993): A postal cancellation commemorated the anniversary of the oldest department store in the United States. ZCMI was started under the direction of President Brigham Young in 1868 so members of the Church could trade with each other rather than with outsiders. The cancellation included a picture of an early version of the downtown Salt Lake City ZCMI building.