Used (aka cancelled) 19th century US stamps are highly collectible, just like unused 19th century US stamps. In addition to the rarity and condition of the stamp itself, collectors also focus on the quality and rarity of the cancellation (also known as the 'cancel,' or 'killer').
Many 19th century US stamps were hand-cancelled by local postmasters, to prevent re-use of the stamp. Handmade cancels were often carved from cork in a wide variety of creative designs, sometimes referred to as fancy cancels.
Lightly cancelled stamps, with the postmark on a small corner of the stamp, are typically more valuable than heavily-cancelled ones. One exception is the so-called 'bulls-eye' cancellation, where an entire postmark is readable on the stamp, allowing collectors to see the time, date, and location where the stamp was used.
Interviews & Articles
Like many collectors, I collected when I was a child, and then I became interested again in the ‘90s. I think eBay and other Inter… [more]
I have a stamp collection, but I don’t consider myself a collector. I have a collection of my initials on stamps from Great Britai… [more]
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Bob Allen's beautiful and well organized catalog of US stamps from 1847 to 1970 is a fantastic resource for all US … [read review or visit site]
The Stamp Collecting Round-up
Don Schilling's long-running, in-depth blog on stamp collecting and postal operations. Schilling stays up on all th… [read review or visit site]
National Postal Museum
If you're into postal history or collectibles, check out the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum. This extensive s… [read review or visit site]
R. A. Siegel Auction Galleries
This auction house site offers an extensive online database of US stamp information. Includes PDF catalogs of past … [read review or visit site]
Post Office in Paradise
Post Office in Paradise showcases Hawaiian postal history from the years before Hawaii became a part of the United … [read review or visit site]
Private Die Proprietary Stamps
Bob Hohertz's impressive database of U.S. Private Die Proprietary stamps from the Civil War and Spanish American Wa… [read review or visit site]
First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [read review or visit site]
Clubs & Associations: Stamps