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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R O China---1980-- T46 Pair Zodiac Monkey On Envelope. ----used--lot10418P R China--1953-- 800yuan Brown Military Stamp --veryfine---unused---lot16391Gb 1964 Rare! Forth Road Bridge Presentation Pack Superb Sg Cat £450Gb. Qv. 1840, 2d Block. Black Maltese Cross.Sg438, £1 Black, Cds. Cat £550.[296] China 1968 Good Stamp Very Fine Mnh1967 - Culture Revolution W1 Complete Set- Thoughts Of Mao Ze-dong5/- Blue-green Sydney Harbour Bridge Mint Hinged Sg 143 (cv $850)Nystamps Us Revenue Stamp # R102c Used $1000Gb Qv - Qeii Mint Stamp Collection In Stockbook ~ Huge Cat Value ~ 99p Start NrEurope, Huge Stamp Collection, 10x Old Albums/stockbooks Etc In Large Box[/49] Usa 1857 Scott#39 Mint No Gum Cat Value:$1,100 Very Fresh !!!!China 1971 - Complete Set 9 Pcs - Rare ** Mnh(4) Repaired 1882 Qv £5.00 Orange On Blued Paper (sg133) Cds Datedmy 24 82China Stamps 1897 Imperial China Red Revenue Four Cent Surcharge On 3 CentChina Prc Sc#982-90, Cultural Revolution, "revolutionary Literature & Art" Mnh(3) Very Good Used 1882 Qv £1.00 Brown Lilac On Blued Paper (sg132) Pmk Ju 11 83China 1963 S57 Sc #716-31 Landscapes Of Huangshan Set Of 16 Mnh And OgAustralia - 1916 £1 Chocolate/dull Blue Kangaroo, 3rd Watermark, Used – Sg # 44(2) Very Good Used 1883 Qv 10/- Grey-green On Blued Paper (sg131) Pmk Oc 30 831898 Scott #292 $1. Cattle In The StormChina..1959 An Impresive Illustr.air-mailed Cover, To France...Stamp Collection World Europe Mnh/mm Mint & Used Sheets Good Cv (we10)Gb 1913 Gv Waterlow Seahorses Nh £1 Spec N72(1) (sg 403) Cat £4800[g42075] Vatican 1934 Good Rare Set Very Fine Mnh Stamps + Certificate V:$3400Nystamps China Large Dragon Stamp # 2 Used $400 大龍 保真 Guaranteed GenuineMomen: Turkey Stamps #254-270 Sultan Mint Og H 1914 $785 Lot #1405German States Old Stock PageChina 中國 1 Block + 10-stamps-set ** "year Of Horse" 1978 Absolutely MintGreece , 1940 , And Epirus Very Scarce Full Airmail Sets , Falangists , Mnh !! 1960 #3 Blonde Ponytail Barbie W Blue Eye Liner, #2 Stand1840 Sg2 1d Black Plate 1a Red Maltese Cross 4 Margins (pe) 99p Start(5) Good Lightly Cancelled Qv £5.00 Orange (sg137) Cds Dated ?? 6 98Nystamps Japan Stamp # 152-154 Mint Og H $811China Stamps , 1897 Imperial China Red Revenue One Cent Surcharge On 3 CentPrc China 1960 Chrysanthemums Sc# 542/59 S44 UnusedMalaya Malaysia Singapore 1969 Qeii Foundation Mini Sheet Fdc First Day CoverGreece , 1896 , Very Scarce Full Set , Olympic Games , Vf Used !! Imperial China, 1898 - 1905 Coiling Dragons Collection, 1/2c To $1, Mh Ckstamps : Us Stamps Scott #1 5c Red Brown 1847 Used Seems Cancel Removed Cv$450Nystamps Korea Stamp # 33 Mint Og H $1750Gb Victoria To 1924 Collection In 113 Year Old Stockbook!Gb Album All Reigns. (54 Pics)1980 Chinese Monkey T-46 Stamp Mnh OgUs Stamps # 243 $3 Columbian Mint Nh Cat Val $5250Great Britain 1891 £1 Green Sg 212 'specimen' L.h.m. (m403)Us Revenue Sc # R97a 1862-71 $15 Used Cat $3250Us Regular Sc # 312 1902-03 $2 Mint Nh Cat $2750Greece , 1941 , North Epirus , Very Scarce Full Airmail Set , Falangists , Mnh 1840 Sg5 2d Blue Plate 1 Red Maltese Cross 4 Margins (ab) 99p StartGb 1847-54 10d Brown (sg 57) Embossed, Cut Square Fine-used (m406)Rr! China Prc: Culture Revolution Cover With Good Franking !!Iceland Complete Air-mail Hopflug Itala Balbo Set Mh Cv$2,700 Cert. GronlundRr! China Prc: Culture Revolution Cover With Good Franking And Rare Propaganda!Gb. Qv. Sg 5, 2d Blue. Marginal Inscription. Good Used.Us Stamps # 241 $1 Columbian Mint Nh Cat Val $3850Nystamps Us Stamp # 243 Mint With Gum H $1600Gb. Qv. 1d Blacks. Superb Pair, Red Maltese Cross.[50003] Great Britain 10s Cross Wtm With Specimen Mint No Gum Signed Very FineUs Stamp:#r151a 2c Orange 1874 3rd Issue Revenue Center Inverted Error Unused

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Leave food by your mailbox for collection; post offices help 'stamp out' hunger
The Times (subscription), May 5th

For the 23rd year, postal workers from around the nation will join together to Stamp Out Hunger. All day Saturday, May 9, Streator, Ottawa and Marseilles post offices will be collecting nonperishable food items for families in need. More than 10,000...Read more

Local Church in Process of Losing Food Stamp License
NBC 7 San Diego, May 4th

CalFresh Program Specialist Matthew Heffernan, from the County's Health and Human Services Agency, says group homes are not typically permitted to collect food stamp benefits, unless they have a rare and special license from the U.S. Department of ...Read more

Stamp out hunger aims deliver food to those in need
wivb.com, May 4th

The U.S. Postal Service is encouraging people to help by putting together cans or nonperishable foods for the mail carrier to collect along normal routes. I say two things every year. Hopefully some day I'm going to stand here and say we don't need it...Read more

Stamp of approval for an avid Sharjah collector
The National, May 4th

Mutaz Osman owns so many stamps and coins he cannot even count them. The 41-year-old operations director of Sharjah Expo Centre, the centrepiece of a planned Expo City in the emirate, started his collection as a child. In 2000, he also started writing ...Read more

Foxborough Charter School: Remembering the Holocaust, one stamp at a time
Wicked Local Foxborough, May 2nd

FOXBOROUGH — At almost the halfway point, some 5,000,000 stamps have been collected at the Foxborough Regional Charter School to raise awareness about the Holocaust. The Holocaust Stamps Project was spearheaded six years ago by retired ...Read more

Riot Act explores the seedy side of stamp collecting
Jackson Hole News&Guide, April 29th

What do you do when you discover a book of rare stamps following your mother's death? Sell it, or keep it for sentimental reasons? That is the quandary facing two half sisters in the play “Mauritius,” by Theresa Rebeck, which will be performed by the...Read more

Schlegel: Will stamp collecting endure as snail mail continues to dwindle?
NJ.com, April 12th

When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? Other than last year's Christmas cards, my last holdout of hand-written communicating, I can't even recall. Over the past two years, I've reluctantly, but regularly, relied on the Internet to send...Read more

Shropshire stamp collector's life's work go under the hammer at auction
shropshirestar.com, April 7th

“This chap must have been collecting since he was a boy – I would think it must have been something of an obsession, it would have certainly kept him out of mischief, lets put it that way. He collected stamps from Britain, the Commonwealth, Jersey...Read more