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

East Passyunk gets spooky for Witch CRAFT Beer Crawl, October 7th

Tickets for the event cost $6.66 (of course) and earn attendees $3 beers, a witch's hat and a special stamp card. With every food or drink purchase during the crawl, cardholders collect a stamp; five stamps earns a chance to win $375 in gift...Read more

Stamp club
Frederick News Post (subscription), October 6th

“Typically you collect stamps when you are young, slow down and and then it pick up when you retire,” said Tom Germack, who began collecting stamps in 1939. “It keeps the brain cells working. I can answer a lot of questions on Jeopardy because stamps ...Read more

42nd annual C-U Stamp Club show set for next weekend
Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette, October 5th

Also part of the show: The American Topical Association, which promotes topical and thematic stamp collecting by publishing reference works and checklists and organizing the National Topical Stamp Show. The association members will meet at 1:30 p.m. ...Read more

Sarnia Stamp Club dates back to the 1950s
Sarnia Observer, October 3rd

The first stamp Al Gualtieri collected arrived on a letter his father sent home to Italy in 1951 from Canada where he had travelled to find work and a new life for his family. "The first stamp I saw was a Canadian stamp," Gualtieri said at the Sarnia...Read more

Head post office puts stamp of Bapu on sale
Times of India, October 2nd

More than 200 stamps were sold in 2 hours on Friday. "This is the first time ever that the head post office has taken an initiative to sell the Gandhi stamp, As my brother is fond of stamps, I especially arrived early in the morning to collect the...Read more

Stamp Collecting Month at Spellman in Weston
MetroWest Daily News, October 1st

To encourage young people to begin the lifelong hobby of stamp collecting, also known as philately, the Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History at Regis College in Weston is giving free admission to all youngsters throughout October. This offer is...Read more

Charlie Brown Christmas Forever stamps kick-off National Stamp Collecting ..., September 30th

December marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most popular holiday TV classics of all time — A Charlie Brown Christmas. To celebrate the holiday season and launch October as National Stamp Collecting Month, the U.S. Postal Service is dedicating...Read more

Star Wars Stamp Collection, in pictures: Get them while you can, September 21st

The Star Wars Stamp Collection from Royal Mail is officially a thing. While Star Wars fans and stamp collectors are two different grades of geek, these special stickies are going to be hard for both camps to resist. The Star War stamps will come in 12...Read more