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”)
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Stamps
Source: Google News
80 sites selected for Nebraska's Passport Program are...Omaha World-Herald, March 8th
The Nebraska Tourism Committee's program encourages people to visit different sites around the state between May 1 and Sept. 30, collecting special stamps in their passport books as they go. Prizes will be given for various amounts of stamps collected...Read more
Review: Christie allies enjoy lucrative yearsThe News Journal, March 8th
The governor has allowed political cronyism to continue and even flourish, rather than stamp it out, with some of his closest confidants enriching themselves through millions of dollars in state contracts, and legal and lobbying fees, an Asbury Park...Read more
Timmins Stamp Club creates collectable itemTimmins Times, March 8th
Stamp collectors in Timmins have created a unique collectable that is certain to get attention, especially for those who collect what are known as “covers”. Those are envelopes postmarked with a stamp on the same day the stamp is issued. In this case...Read more
Abilene, Big Country calendar for 3/10ReporterNews.com, March 7th
Information: 817-573-8186. Stamp collecting workshop. American Philatelic Society members Phil McCauley and Lou David Allen will present a workshop on stamp collecting at 6:30 p.m. at the Abilene Public Library, 202 Cedar St. Admission is free. Jam...Read more
No place for 'stamp collecting research'The Australian, March 4th
Annabelle Duncan, acting vice-chancellor at the University of New England, dismissed the large amount of low impact research in the system as “stamp collecting”. “We can't do the stamp collecting research. We are going to have to look at the really ...Read more
'Mauritius' brings stamp collecting to extremesNorthern Iowan, March 3rd
Jackie (Erika Kuhn) looks over Dennis's (Tad Klenske) shoulder in the Strayer-Wood Theatre's production of “Mauritius.” The play centers around several rare stamps and what they are worth to the different people in the play, inciting both violence and ...Read more
You say philately, I say stamp collectingHometownlife.com, February 22nd
Postal history and the study of postmarks begin to emerge as a serious collecting discipline in the 1910s with a major upward trend in stamp collecting taking off in the late 1940s and 1950s after World War II. Today, people of all ages enjoy...Read more
'Mona Lisa of the stamp world' that cost just one cent when it was new in 1856 ...Daily Mail, February 14th
To the schoolboy stamp collector who plucked it from a pile of family papers more than a century ago, it was simply a new addition to his collection. But now a 1-cent postage stamp is set to become the most expensive in the world. The unremarkable...Read more