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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Fundamentals of Coin Collecting and Coin InvestingCoinWeek, September 16th
In my opinion coin and stamp collecting are the greatest hobbies ever conceived. Those of us involved in numismatics, or the study of coins and money already know that we have a wonderful pastime to relieve the stress and pressures of every day life...Read more
$100000 Reward for Missing 'Jennies'New York Times, September 14th
The stamp is known to collectors as the Inverted Jenny, after the nickname of the Curtiss JN-4 biplane. But the block was gone. The Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed the armed guards and others in the room and came up empty, unable to even ...Read more
Yeovil stamp collectors mark new exhibition - but "doubt that we'll still be ...Western Gazette, September 12th
STAMP collecting, or philately, is as old as stamps themselves, with the first collectors popping up shortly after the launch of the Penny Black in 1840. Now Yeovil and District Philatelic Society is celebrating its 60th birthday with a new exhibition...Read more
Friends of the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands offer stamp collection ...Redlands Daily Facts, September 11th
In addition to poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Rudyard Kipling, fiction by Booth Tarkington and Mayne Reid and children's fiction by Gloria Young, there is an item especially for the stamp collector — a stamp book containing numerous stamps from...Read more
Art & Antiques | Stamp collectors' bounty a window into the pastCentre Daily Times, August 23rd
The process of stamp collecting is almost as old as the stamp itself. There have been documented cases of meetings of stamp collectors taking place as early as 1841, and advertisements placed by like-minded individuals who enjoyed stamp collecting in...Read more
Start Stamp CollectingLock Haven Express, August 22nd
The process of stamp collecting is nearly as old as the stamp itself. There have been documented cases of meetings of stamp collectors taking place as early as 1841 and advertisements placed by like-minded individuals who enjoyed stamp collecting in...Read more
Otis Barnes stamp collector — plain and simpleThe Port Arthur News, August 18th
“I collected stamps when I was a kid, but not too much come to think of. I've been collecting really, sort of serious since 1980,” he said while admiring part of a collection that chronicles history from the time dinosaurs roamed the earth to today's...Read more
Stamp collectors sour on money-making commemorativesWaterbury Republican American, August 13th
"'Harry Potter' is a perfect example," Ken Martin, executive director of the American Philatelic Society, a nonprofit stamp-collecting foundation that claims 44,000 members. He, at least, doesn't approve of the fictional boy wizard or his British...Read more