The world’s first adhesive postage stamp was the Penny Black, printed for the British postal service by an American named Jacob Perkins on May 6, 1840. Two days later, a blue two-penny or “Tuppeny blue” stamp came off the Perkins, Bacon & Co. press. Both stamps featured an engraved portrait of Queen Victoria, as would the Penny Red, which replaced the Penny Black in 1841. 

Now you might think the Penny Black would be worth a small fortune, but more than 68 million imperforate versions of the stamp were printed, and it’s estimated some 21 billion Penny Reds were produced, none of which were perforated before 1854. If you want rare, go for the Tuppeny blue—only six-and-a-half million of those beauties were printed.

Thanks to their ubiquity, Penny Blacks and Reds are relatively affordable. Less attainable are stamps such as the 1918 Inverted Jenny, a 24-cent U.S. stamp depicting a Curtiss JN-4H biplane flying upside down, of which only 100 are known to exist. Rarer still is the 1847 Mauritius “Post Office” stamp, a British colonial issue whose scarcity and multi-million-dollar prices at auction inspired a Broadway play.

For many philatelists, these stamps are impossible Holy Grails. More attainable are the countless pieces of postage from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, and China. Each piece of postage produced by these nations tells a story about their unique histories.

Collectors of U.S. stamps might try for commemorative and special issue stamps, such as a set of all four horizontal Zeppelin stamps, printed between 1930 and 1933, or the set of 10 National Park stamps issued in 1934. Definitives, or regular issue stamps, are also popular—many bear portraits of presidents from Washington to Kennedy, while others depict the likenesses of scientists (Albert Einstein), architects (Frank Lloyd Wright), and playwrights (Eugene O’Neill).

Formal portraits of royalty grace most British stamps, but the imagery gets more picturesque as one moves away from the country’s main islands to current territories such as Gibraltar and former ones like Malta. The rise and fall of the Third Reich can be followed on German stamps, which are littered with swastikas before and during World War II. French stamps frequently honor intellectuals and art expositions, such as the one in 1925 that gave rise to the term Art Deco, while Australian stamps naturally feature numerous depictions of indigenous animals such as the kangaroo and platypus.

Chinese stamps are also steeped in their country’s history. Pre-Mao-era stamps reveal the hyperinflation of the early 1930s, as seen in the 500-yuan stamps of that period. During the Mao era itself, the chairman’s smiling face, as well as compositions celebrating the country’s military might, were common, but there were also stamps meant to encourage exercise, such as the series of 40 stamps printed in 1952, when millions listened to, and exercised along with, a daily radio program promoting fitness.


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Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

National Duck Stamp Collectors Society Issues 2015 Stamp
AmmoLand Shooting Sports News, March 25th

Harleysville, PA -(Ammoland.com)- The National Duck Stamp Collectors Society, the only stamp society devoted to duck and conservation stamps, is pleased to announce the issuance of the seventh stamp in their Society stamp. The stamp features a ...Read more

Patronizing Miliband, Campbell Reach out to “Stamp-Collecting Community”
Glossy News (satire), March 23rd

See, I'm not like the rest of them… I can express my feeling elo..qu…. um, clearly, without saying bad words! AL: Performative contradiction, Ed? Anyway, here are our Ten Quasi-Questioning Diktats of Philatelic Assimilation: 1. What does the stamp...Read more

Excess postage? Stamp collector loads up his mailings with old issues
Chico Enterprise-Record, March 16th

John Kranz mails packages covered in stamps last week at the Chico post office. Kranz owns the Penny Ranch, which includes stamp-collecting, so he has plenty around. He started collecting coins when he was young. When his mom retired from stamp ...Read more

FrogTape Earn Your Stripes DIY contest, stamp collectors show and birds in the ...
cleveland.com (blog), March 13th

STAMP COLLECTING SHOW: The Garfield Perry Stamp Club celebrates its 125th anniversary with a March Party stamp collecting show, Thursday through Saturday, March 19-21 in Cleveland. More than 1,000 stamp enthusiasts are expected to attend to buy ...Read more

San Marino Honors the 3D Printing Revolution with Stamp Collection from Artist ...
3DPrint.com, March 11th

Stamp collecting as a hobby is still alive and well, despite the bite electronic communications have taken from posted pieces. Stamps are valued for designs honoring individuals, events, and technologies that have impacted a society — and one of the...Read more

Stamp collectors flock to Tidewater show
The Star Democrat, March 8th

Pages of “seals” that feature the British royal family dating from Elizabeth II's coronation in the 1950s catch the eye of Bruce McKinney, president of the Sussex County Stamp Club. McKinney was among the stamp aficionados who attended the Tidewater ...Read more

The real reason to start collecting stamps
BBC News, February 27th

Although the advent of email has hurt postal mail service in recent years, stamp collecting remains a passionate hobby as well as a valuable business and investment strategy in many countries. Billions of stamps have been issued since the British Penny ...Read more

Library To Host Stamp Collecting Event
Coronado Eagle and Journal, February 26th

The Coronado Public Library cordially invites children of all ages to a stupendous educational children's stamp collecting event on Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Winn Room of the Coronado Public Library. Our guest instructor is Captain...Read more