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
Kentucky restricts low-risk cottage food salesLouisville Eccentric Observer, July 29th
Farmers apply for this state-granted stamp of approval to help market their products, and to connect directly to consumers. These same farmers are allowed ... I started collecting supplies, including books, magazines, jars, tools, et cetera. And then...Read more
House Hunting in ... BritainNew York Times, July 29th
The house is heated by the fireplaces and an oil burner; solar panels on the roof collect enough energy to allow the owners to turn a profit on electricity, Ms. Yates said. Water comes from a spring above the house. Fangdale Beck lies within the valley...Read more
Cedar City Art Walk Final Friday Gallery Stroll offers new stamp card programThe Independent | SUindependent.com, July 29th
The Cedar City Arts Council has started a new stamp card program to add to the Art Walk festivities. After receiving a stamp card from any of the locations, participants can then collect stamps as they enjoy the walk. Once eight stamps have been...Read more
Kirchhoff retiring after 22 years as Wilber postmastrSeward County Independent, July 28th
“When I was in Byron, I probably had 10 customers in a town of 200 that collected stamps,” Kirchhoff said “Now, I'm in a town of 2,000 and I don't have anybody collecting. “There was a few when I first came here 22 years ago, but there aren't any now.”...Read more
Sanford chief of staff leaving to run stamp collectors groupThe State (blog), July 27th
English said he is not a stamp collector but will have a chance to use his history degree. The society cited his experience with leading large groups and fundraising. He said he got to know the stamp-collecting group during Sanford's first stint on...Read more
Postal Service's effort to fire up stamp collectors with modern twist on its ...Omaha World-Herald, July 26th
WASHINGTON — The U.S Postal Service did something unprecedented when it tried to boost stamp sales and fire up excitement about collecting: It reprinted the most famous stamp error in history, known as the Inverted Jenny. Now the agency's watchdog ...Read more
The ageless allure of stamp collectingCBS News, July 5th
No true philatelist would pass up an 1860s stamped Pony Express envelope, now valued at as much as $50,000. No wonder Rita Braver can find dedicated stamp collectors in all sorts of places. Originally broadcast January 18, 2015: Captain David Robinson ...Read more
How to . . . invest in stampsFinancial Times, July 3rd
It is the stamp collector's holy grail: the little black stamp that made post affordable for those living in the Victorian era. The Penny Black — the world's oldest stamp — turned 175 years old in May. Although 68m were printed, the stamps remain...Read more