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”)



First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

China Prc, 1980 T46 Chinese New Year Monkey, Unmounted Mint Mnh, Cv£1600, ScarceFrance(bob) & Colonies, Ww(fr-ga), Wonderful Stamp Collection In A ScottIndia, Hong Kong, Iceland, Hungary &, Wonderful Stamp Collection(4000+) InChina Old Postcard Chinese General Chang Hsueh Liang In Military Dress !!Germany, Berlin, Ddr, Includes Zeppelins, Spectacular Stamp Collection In 4 ScotRussia(-1966), Romania(1951-,bob) &, 4000+ Stamps Mostly Hinged In A ScottCkstamps : Us Stamps Scott #245 $5 Columbian 1893 Unused Appear Rg Cv$2500/ogItalian States / Italy / Territories - Interesting Old Collection E410Russia 1934 Sc C65/mi 506 Chelyuskin Rescue Mnh Cv $1900China 192.. Red Band Cover From Swatow To Singapore Singkawang, Borneo DeiStamp Timbre Souvenir Sheet .. China Prc Sc#1399 Horse 1978 Mnh-og/luxe C$650.00Gb Gv Puc Wmk Inverted 2½d Sg Spec# Ncom8(1)a £3750 (sg 437wi) NhItaly, Japan &, 4000+ Stamps Mostly Hinged In A Scott International AlbumGerman Colonies & Offices, Includes China, 2 Essays, Wonderful Stamps Mounted OCkstamps: Us Stamps Scott #293 $2 Trans-mississippi 1898 Mint Lh/og Cv$1900 CertChina Old Cover Chungking Kiatingfu To Anvers Belgique 1913 !!Nystamps Worldwide Old Stamp Collection Scott International Album $15500Page Of Mint & Used Old Imperial China Stamps. Mainly Dragons.Stamp Timbre 20 .. China Prc Sc#661-80 Butterfly 1963 Mnh-ng/mint C$560.00Sg 404 £1 Dull Blue Green. A Fine Used Cds Example, Few Short Perfs. Good...German Colonies & Offices, Kiautschou, Spectacular Stamp Collection In A LightDrbobstamps Us Scott #3 Mint Well Centered Scarce Stamp W/clean Pse CertificateCkstamps : Us Old Stamps Scott #292 $1 Black Trans-mississippi 1898 Used Cv$700Stamp Timbre 6 .. China Prc / Chine Sc#1143-48 Sports 1974 Mnh-og/luxe C$81.00German Colonies, Includes Kiautschou, Spectacular Used Stamp Collection China Coiling Dragon Mh 40 Unused Cents Cent Overprint Republic ...++Spain, Sweden, Strait Settlements &, 3000+ Stamps Hinged In A Scott InternationaMonaco, Netherlands, Ww(mo-ne), Wonderful Stamp Colect In A Scott International 1867 5s. Rose Sg 126 Plate 1 (cd) - Fine Used With Light Cancel. Cat. £600.Korea : Old Time Nice & Clean Mint & Used Collection On Album Pg W/ Many Better.Russia Cccp 1951 Cover Moscow - England Bl.13 Stalin 1949 Very Rare !!!!!!!!!!!!Australia, Austria, Ww(au-ba), Wonderful Stamp Collection In A Scott InternationGb Qv Penny Black, 1840 2d Ble, Surface-printed /line-engraved Collection & MoreThailand 1883-85 Unissued 1 Fuang Black Proof Creased UnusedStamp Collection Commonwealth Europe World Bumper Box Mint Used Extreme Cv (fb2)Nystamps Worldwide Old Stamp Collection Scott International Album $20000Nystamps Us Air Mail Stamp # C15 Mint Og H $650Greece 1896 First Olympic Games Set Used Rr Signed Upon RequestPrc 1962 Stage Art Mei Lan-fang Quality Full Set With Gum Cto See Scans[3992] Portugal 1853 Dona Maria Good Stamp Very Fine Used Value $1000Japan, Assortment Of Mint Stamps In A Lighthouse Hingeless Album(-1968)Drbobstamps Us Scott #c15 Mint Og Hhr Well Centered Zeppelin StampChina Lot Of Coiled Dragons With Nice Lunar Cancels 2015-2480 China, Prc, Chile, 2000+ Stamps Hinged In A Scott International Album1950's China Airmail Cover Tientsin To Usa Inflationary, Stamps, National EmblemMalaysia, Luxembourg, Ww(li-me), Wonderful Stamp Collection In A Scott InternatLarge Collection Bundle Royal Mail Mint Stamps 55 Presentation Packs Lovely Collection Of Royal Mail Mint Stamps Packs Dated 2011 - 2012 - 615 D31British Po In Bangkok 1883 Large Piece With Wmk Ca 8c Tied Singapore CdsGerman Empire, Reich, Zeppelins, Excellent Selection Of Stamps Hinged On PagesNystamps Pr China Stamp # 1433 Mint Og Nh $625German Offices, Includes China, Excellent Used Stamp Collection In A Lighthouse 1950's China Airmail Cover To Usa, 1959 Stamps, 1869 Us Pictorial 90c Sc 122 H Cat $120001980 China Monkey Stamp Very Fine Mint Never Hinged B22.35 Start 0.99$China : 1912. Scott #192-200. All Very Fresh. Mint Original Gum Hinged. Cat $462Japan, 100's Of Mostly Mint Nh Modern Stamps & Souvenir Sheets In A Bavaria, Assortment Of 100's Of Old Stamps Hinged On Pages/stockpage[76318] France 1929 Good Stamp Very Fine Used Sign Brown High ValueChina-31/3/1946-rare-manchuria/manchukuo Overprint Chuho- Tsingtao Airmail Cover

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Letter-writing contest marks Philately Day celebrations at Head Post Office
Chandigarh Tribune, October 13th

Another student from the school said it was interesting to know that some of the postage stamps cost worth lakhs of rupees. “I was fascinated to see that there is so much history behind every postage stamp. Stamp collection is a knowledge enhancing...Read more

'New Arrivals' gallery in Stamp addresses identity in the 21st century
Diamondback Online, October 12th

Three of Peréz's photographs from that project, titled The Outliers, reside in “New Arrivals 2015: Collecting Contemporary Art at the University of Maryland,” a gallery located on the first floor of Stamp Student Union comprised of work from six...Read more

Communications-related stamps intrigue collector
Rio Rancho Observer, October 12th

He and Jenny share more than their love for stamps: They met when Jenny, born in Grants Pass, Ore., was a junior at Sandia High School, got married before her senior year, and moved to Tucson, where she completed high school and Paul was working for ...Read more

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

Today's the 68-year-old Strube knows who Key was and he knows a lot about stamps. An avid stamp collector, he was one of the initial members of the Frederick Stamp Club which was founded in 1999. He has been president of the club the last three years...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

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