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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Great Rare Victorian Penny Black Stamp With Red Inked Maltese Mark - V3 R14Gb Large Hoard Of Gb Material/accumulation 4 X 1d Blacks, 2d Blue ~ 99p No ResVictorian Penny Red Stamps & 2 Penny Blues With Red Inked Maltese Mark - V4 R14China, 1885-1955 Good Stamp Collection From Early Classics In Large Old Sg AlbumPk.424. Gb Collection In Fine Davo Album. Victoria - Qeii. Ideal Project.Russia Stamp 1933 Sc#518 Perf. 9.5 !!! Margin Cv10000$ Mnh RareLarge Box Of Stamps, Collections, Covers, Auction Lots, Packs, Loose Etc EtcPrc W2 1967 Mao Set 8 Stamps Mi 990-992 977-981 China Used Vfu Sc. 949-956Nystamps Russia Stamp # 2926a Mint Og H $175 Imperf Green SheetGermany(-1945), Reich, 4000+ Stamps In A Kabe Stocbook1911 £1 Deep Green Sg320. Somerset House. Superb Used. Cds.Pk.425. Gb Collection In Fine Album. Victoria Only. Many Fine Stamps.Nystamps Us Stamp # 39 Used? $10000Sg 438 £1 Puc. A Very Fine Used Cds Example, Well Centred And Clean ReverseGb Gv Waterlow Seahorse £1 Spec# N72(1) Nh Spec £4800 (sg 403) ($7200)Gb 1913 Waterlow Seahorse Series Nh To £1 Sg403 Sg Cat £8,550 ($13,660)1891 £1 Green Sg212. 3 Crowns Wmk. Superb Used.8659aj Denmark C1851-1967 Used Stamp Collection In Vol I Davo Album & Slipcase ?Russia 1857 Sc#1 Cv900$ Pen Cansellation Part Of Cover Original Empire Stamp 1962 China Chine Asia 2 Covers Vf Used B12.49 Low Start Sg 438 £1 Puc Fresh Unmounted Mint Well Centred Full Perfs Cat £1100Large Box Full Of Covers - All World/all Periods - 2/3000 - Extensive EarlierKorea & Thailand Gigantic Value Stamps Collection Mostly Mnh In Specialty AlbumNystamps Us Stamp # 122 Used $2250Australia / Wa - 1854 4d Blue Swan, Imperforate With Swan Watermark, Used Gb Qv Pl 1 10/- Sg# 135 Used Sg £7875 ($11812)Gb 1913 Waterlow Seahorse Nh £1 Spec N72(1) (sg 403) Cat £4800 ($7200)Us Franklin Sc # 477 1916-17 50c Mint Nh Cat $2000Japan 1871-1935 Mint & Used Collection 6 Pages Mixed ConditionUs Franklin Sc # 478 1916-17 $1 Mint Nh Cat $1450Lot:9570 Gb Qv Mulready Front Black Maltese Cross 1840 1d Black Plate 2 'lk' Sg 403 £1 Green A Fine Very Fresh Unmounted Mint Full Gum ExampleUs Pictorial Sc # 117 1869 12c Mint H Cat $19001862 3c Strip 4 Us Consul Singapore +forwarded ! Civil War Ship Sunk ConfederateUs $5 Regular 1902-03 Sc 313 Nh Cat Value $6500Us Regular Sc # 311 1902-03 $1 Mint Nh Cat $1900Us 1913-15 Mint Nh Panama Pacific Issue Thru 10c Perf 10 #404 Cat $3,230Sg 5 2d Blue Plate 1. Fresh Mounted Mint. 4 Margins Just Touched At Top Left...China Prc(-1959), Wonderful Selection Of Stamps Hinged/mounted On Scott PagesChina Collection Of Blocks, Souvenir Sheets & Booklets In 2 Stock Books G702Gb 1867-83 Qv Pl 1 Used 10/- Sg 131 Cat £9100 ($13650)Sg 2 1d Black Plate 3 Cat £19,500. Scarce Plate Mint, Light Vertical Bend...Chicago & Sioux City Railway Post Office Illinois Central Rpo Il Ia Ic BlackhawkCkstamps: Us Stamps Scott #c15 $2.60 Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint H/og Cv$5758670aj Guernsey C2000-2012 Mint Stamp Collection In Vol Ii Davo Album + Slipcase8655aj Gb Coin Covers Collection - Good Catalogue And Face Value - Nice Lot ??Gb Qv 2/- Sg# 118 H Sg £3800 ($5700)Gb 1867-80 Qv Pl 1 Used 2/- Sg 121 Cat £4200 ($6300)Nystamps Us Stamp # 243 Mint Og H $1600♥►► Useful Gb Collection 1840 1d & 2d Qv £1 Green £1 Kevii + 1929 Puc £1 Etc ◄◄Nystamps Spain Stamp # 605g Mint Og Nh $7751960 Crowns Phosphor Wmk Inverted Set Of (10) Unmounted Mint (m227)1861-66 Us Portrait 5c Sc 67 Lh Cat $27500Gb 1911 Used £1 Deep Green Sg320 Cat £750Sg118 2/- Blue Wmk. Spray. Superb Cds Used.China Prc(1960-71), Wonderful Selection Of Stamps Hinged/mounted On Scott PagesEarly Denmark Mint & Used CollectionU.s. #243 Unused Beauty - $3.00 Columbian ($800)Vatican 1934 Provisional / Provvisoria Complete Set 6v / Mh / Fresh G43429Us Stamp:#c13 65c Green 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og Stamp Superb

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Collectors magnify a timeless hobby
Bee news.com, March 4th

From definitive stamps, which are produced for an extended period of time as all-purpose stamps, to commemorative stamps, issued to honor events, persons or organizations and postal history, there are many niches found within stamp collecting. The...Read more

Stamp society welcomes eminent publications editor
Sequim Gazette, March 4th

“I started a mint U.S. stamp collection (years ago),” Kloetzel said, “but it didn't take me too many years in the auction business to know I wasn't going to build this great collection,” Kloetzel said. Kloetzel brings his personal and professional...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

Stamp collector's decades of hobby
Bundaberg News Mail, February 24th

BACK in the 1930s Alison Rogers developed an interest in collecting stamps, an enthusiasm she still has today. Mrs Rogers said many people may still have an ETA peanut butter, an Ampol or an Embassy stamp album tucked away somewhere. "Back in the ...Read more

Coronado Library To Host Stamp Collecting Event Feb. 25
Coronado Eagle and Journal, February 19th

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

A boon for stamp collectors
Mail & Guardian Online, February 13th

South Africa's online marketplace www.bidorbuy.co.za has always been a real treasure trove for collectors, and stamp collectors are no exception. This is where people come when they need to complete their album with that one elusive stamp, or when they ...Read more

'Incredible' stamp collection could net Hampshire man £250000
Daily Echo, February 10th

Among the collection of used stamps was an uncut sheet of 19 rare 'candarin' stamps bought in 1882, by an English missionary in Shanghai, and kept for day to day postage use. The find is being described by experts as “incredible and unparalleled”...Read more