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.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

China - Russia Imperial Registered Handpaint 1c Postcard 1909 Heaven Temple SetWw, China Prc, 4000+ Stamps Hinged In An Old Battered Harris Citation Album1867-83 £1 Brown-lilac Sg129 Specimen Superb Mint Sg Cat £6,000+++China Old Postcard Registered Mail Chinese Mariage Chengchow To Belgium 1909 !!Great Britain 1840 2d Blue (sg 5) '1844 Town Cancel' Four Margins (n1143)Drbobstamps Prc China Scott #1518 Mnh Full Og Vf Rare Souvenir SheetUs/ww, China, 1000's & 1000's Of Stamps Hinged In A 14 Volume Minkus Master Glob1913 £1 Green Seahorse (sg 403) Cat Value £3,000 Fine L.h.m. (n1218)Ww, China(-1955), 1000's Of Stamps Hinged In 3 Scott International AlbumsGreat Britain 1913 £1 Green Seahorse Sg 403 Fine Used And Scarce (n1349)China Old Large Cover Manchukuo Goverment Japan !!Drbobstamps Prc China Scott #620-627 Used StampsDrbobstamps Prc China Scott #1573 Mnh Og Nh Vf Souvenir SheetGreat Britain Victoria £1 Brown-lilac Sg 129, Glasgow C.d.s. Fine-used (n1147)Drbobstamps Prc China Scott #1541 Mnh Full Og Vf With Gold Overprint Fresh SheetGreece, 117-128, Unused, Complete 1896 Olympics Set Of Stamps32) Gb - Qv 1840 2d Blue Pl.1, Sg5, Superb Used 4 Margin Copy, Red Maltese CrossGreat Britain 1888 £1 Brown Lilac Sg 186 Wmk Orbs. Rare Cat Value £4,250 (n1324)Spain, Germany, Latvia, Persia, Italy, Saudi Arabia &, Excellent Old Stamps In Gb Album - Qv To Qe Ii. High Cat!!! (101 Pics)Ckstamps: Us Stamps Scott#241 $1 Columbian 1893 Mint Lh Gum Disturbed 2014 $1100Drbobstamps Us Scott #2 Used Scarce Sound Well Centered StampChina-very Rare-1943 Wwii-airmail-cover-50c Provincial Surchg-to-nigeria-frwd UkChina Old Mao Postcard Peking To Milano Italy 1970 !!Sg2, Scarce 1d Black, M Mint. Cat £12000. 4 Margins. JcGreat Britain 1902 Edward Vii 10s Deep Ultramarine Sg 265 Fine L.h.m. (n1137)Poland , 1960 , Top Rariety , Minisheet Set Of Five , Stamp Centenary , Mnh !! (940) Used 1929 Gv U.p.u. £1 Black (sg438) Good Spacefiller Gb King George V 1929 The £1 Postal Union Congress Issue Sg 438 Superb Fine UsedDrbobstamps Prc China Scott #1617 Mnh Souvenir Sheet(893) Very Fine Used 4 Margin Qv Penny Black(sg2) R-g Plate 3 Red Maltese CrossGb Queen Victoria 1891 One Pound ( £1 ) Green Sg 212 (spec. K17) VfuNystamps Us Stamp # 630 Mint Og Nh $600King Edward Vii 1911 One Pound Deep Green Somerset House Sg 320 (spec.m56) VfuChina Old Postcard Chinese Dinner German Marine Shanghai To Germany 1900 !!Greece Airpost 1940 "e.o.n." Set Mnh Signed Upon RequestDrbobstamps Us Scott #292 Mint Well Centered Scarce Stamp Graded Pse CertificateG.b. Great Britain Stamp Collection Superb Mnh/mm Mint & Fine UsedCentral China 1950 Shanghai Cover W/18 Stamps: Liberation Issue Set & OverprintsGb Qv Penny Black 1840 Plate 7 Ph Bright Vermilion Maltese Cross Sg 2 (specas44)Pakistan, Iraq, Trans-jordan, British Asia, Excellent Stamp Collection Hinged InGreat Britain Gb 1840 2d Blue Fine Used Maltese Cross Imperf Stamp BRussia 1915 Fifteen Imperforate Stamps. Cv=$5250.The Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 2000-2010 CompleteDrbobstamps Prc China Scott #1540 Mnh Og Souvenir SheetJapan 1950 Complete Air Mail Set Pheasant Jsca A6-10 Mnh/unused Nh Cv ¥59.500 Nystamps Us Stamp # 519 Mint Og Nh $850 Washington Sg 118 2/- Dull Blue Fine Mounted Mint Cat £3800Great Britain 1902 Edward Vii 5s Brt Carmine Sg 263 Fine L.h.m. (n1138)Gpo Post Office Royal Mail Hand Date Stamp Die Lincoln BoxedThe Year Collections Of Australian Postage Stamps 1990-99 CompleteChina Old Imperial Postcard Shanghai Local Post Customs Newchwang 1907 !!K59- Second Issue Revenue Inverted Center R127aGb- Collection Qv To GviGreat Britain 1884 £1 Brown Lilac Sg 185 (large Thin) Fine-used (d001)1878 Italy Sc# 39a, 2c On 20c Inverted Surcharge, Mint, Cv $47500.00France: 1855 Cover To Guadeloupe 2fr40 Rate Very Fine PrettySg 1266 £1 Dull Blue Green. Very Fine Used 2 Lightly Placed Part Cds's...Drbobstamps Us Scott #1a Mint Og Rare Stamp With Pse Certificate, Cat $6750Ckstamps: Us Old Stamps Scott #39 90c Blue 1860 Unused No Gum 2014 Cv$1100 W/pse

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

10 Prized Celebrity Collections Worth More Than $15000
Huffington Post, November 24th

The Federal Reserve Chair and her husband, Berkeley economist George Akerlof, have a stamp collection valued between $15,001 and $50,000, according to a Fed financial disclosure. While the actual contents of the collection are unknown, the stamps ...Read more

The stamp of a collector
Hindu Business Line, November 15th

“Anybody can collect stamps. G Balakrishna Das, President of the South India Philatelists' Association (SIPA) has a similar opinion on the hobby: “Making a collection need not require money; you must have patience and perseverance, which makes it perfect...Read more

NY Family Accused For False Food Stamp Collection and Bank Fraud, May ...
Food World News, November 14th

Some of the arrested family members include Yehuda Rubin, 29, and his father, Irving Rubin, 58, Irving Rubin's wife, son, three brothers and five in-laws, who all pleaded not guilty for the bank fraud and false statement, charges on food stamp collection...Read more

Stamp collectors gather for South Fayette convention
Tribune-Review, November 7th

Mary Pickford. Dorothy Lamour. These are pieces of history. There's stories in here.” The envelopes and postcards collected over the years by Hoffman, 55, was one of 37 exhibits at the Philatelic Society of Pittsburgh's annual stamp show at the South...Read more

Stamp-collecting thriller opens Friday at NOVA
Billings Gazette, November 5th

A thriller that exposes the criminal underworld of stamp collecting opens Friday at NOVA Center for the Performing Arts. No, that's no typo. “Mauritius” is a thriller about stamp collecting, pitting two half-sisters against each other. The play...Read more

Moray man turned from stamp collecting to child porn
Aberdeen Press and Journal, November 1st

A stamp collector who was caught with more than 300,000 child porn images on his computer was jailed for four and a half years yesterday. Moray man Paul Hirst, 59, was arrested after police officers discovered a total of 306,978 images and 3,471 videos ...Read more

In digital age, stamp collecting still makes its mark
CBS News, October 27th

NEW YORK - On the centennial anniversary of the annual American Stamp Dealers' Association, hundreds of philatelists - people who study and collect stamps--flocked to a hotel hall in midtown Manhattan littered with dozens of booths. Each table proudly ...Read more

5 reasons why your kid should collect stamps
The Southern, October 26th

This photo provided by the Postal History Foundation shows a young girl with a stamp participating in the Youth Education thru Stamps Program in Tuscon, Ariz. Stamp collecting rewards patience and persistence, teaching those who embrace it about ...Read more