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”)

Alphabetilately

Alphabetilately

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    

Gb. Qv, Sg 212, £1 Green. Superb Belfast Cds. Fine Used.China 1962, "stage Art Of Mei Lan-fang" , Unused Mnh, Stamps Certified - #361969 Mattel Hot Wheels Redline Custom Dodge Charger Dark Blue Mint Carded! Moc!1979 Knickerbocker Lord Of The Rings Gandalf The Grey Figure Mint CardedScott # 2 Us 1847 Imperf 10c H Cat $35000China Pr Used 1968 Sc#992/96 Set, Directives Of Chairman Mao.Russia. 1949. Lenin Mausoleum. Souvenir Sheet. Sc# 1327a. Mi 11a. Imperf. Mnh. O1932 Sg143 Australia 5s Green Sydney Harbour Bridge Very Fine Used Cat £2008659aj Denmark C1851-1967 Used Stamp Collection In Vol I Davo Album & Slipcase ?Rare 1932 Australia Set Of Sydney Harbour Bridge Stamps Cto UnhingedGv - Sg403. £1 Green Seahorse. Central Cds Used Example!Gb. Qv, Sg 320, £1 Deep Green. Superb Guernsey Cds. Fine Used.Scott # 2 Us 1847 Imperf 10c Used Cat $1000Gb. Qv, Sg 438, £1 Postal Union Congress. Fine Used.Ckstamps : Us Old Stamps Scott #1a 5c Dark Brown Imperf. 1847 Used Cv$800 W/pfc#588 Gb Qv 1891 £1 Green Sg212 Used Fault C£800 MbU.s. #122 Scarce Used - 1869 90c Carmine & Black ($2,000)Ckstamps : Us Old Stamps Scott #243 $3 Columbian 1893 Used 2014 Cv$900Russia Stamp 1933 Sc#518 Perf. 9.5 !!! Margin Cv10000$ Mnh RareChina Prc 1970 Illus. Cover To England (5 Values; 1 Faulty) Cut Down (sc $220)Sg18 - £1 Brown, Perfin "k", Wmk 3 Crowns, Gu - Cv £2800Scott # 293 Us 1898 Trans-mississippi $2 Nh Cat $6000Great Britain Victoria 5s (sg 134) Plate 4 Cat £4,200 Fine-used (m008)Us, Danish West Indies, Ww(few), 1000's Of Old Used Stamps In Envelopes/stockcarPrc China 1960 Goldfish Sc# 506/17 S38 UnusedCkstamps: Us Stamps Scott #c14 $1.30 Airmail Graf Zeppelin 1930 Mint Lh Cv$400200+ Kangaroo Stamps ~ Nice Bulk Mix  of All Denominations & Watermarks To 5/-Russia 1857 Sc#1 Cv900$ Pen Cansellation Part Of Cover Original Empire Stamp 1963 Red Cross Ord+ Phosphor Great Britain Fdc West Wellow Cds Vicar Signed Vgc1932 5/- Harbour Bridge Rare 72800 Printed "fresh" Centred Superb "mint" "gem"!Russia 1855-1949 Very Nice Collection In Schaubek AlbumGb, Qv-qeii Stamp Collection In Small Stockbook Album W/ Better Items , High CvChina Old Postcard First President Of Chinese Republic Yuan Shih Kai 1913 !!Gb. Qv, Sg 160, 4d Grey Brown. Mounted Mint.China, Hong Kong - Postcard Wei-hai-wei Sent To St. Stefan Am Gratkorn (austria)Scott # 243 Us 1893 Columbian $3 H Cat $1600Russia. 1949. Lenin Mausoleum. Souvenir Sheet. Sc# 1327a. Perfor. Mnh Original GChina, Wei-hai-wei - Postcard (original Photo) Sent To Austria. Franked With ChiChina Pr Used 1967 Sc#949/56 Set, “mao Tse-tung Our Great Teacher.China, 1885-1955 Good Stamp Collection From Early Classics In Large Old Sg AlbumScott # 37a Us 1857-61 Perf 15 24c H Cat $1400Nystamps Us Stamp # 122 Used $2250Comprehensive Collection Of Gb U/m Commemoratives In Nice 32 Page Stock BookChina Old Postcard 4 Countries Chinese Russia Japan France To Peking 1902 !!China Prc 1999 The Rare Naglar Atm Frama Vending Machine Stamp Set Mint Mnh Rrr!§ Gb Qv 2d Blue Plate 2 With Red Maltese Cross Cat £1000 Lettered "ef" 1 Margin China Old 1980's T46 Monkey StampStanley Gibbons Great Britain 1952-1992 Stamp Album 932 Stamps Face Value £170 +Lombardy & Venetia - Interesting Lot Of 48 Classic Covers C959Scott # 440 Us 1913-15 Franklin 50c Nh Cat $1050Gb 1867-80 Qv Pl 1 Used 2/- Sg 121 Cat £4200 ($6300)U.s. #263 Scarce Used - $5.00 Marshall, Unwkd ($2,750)Sg 438 £1 Puc Fresh Unmounted Mint Well Centred Full Perfs Cat £1100#c14 Mint Original Gum Never Hinged Graf ZeppelinDrbobstamps Us Scott #c13-15 Sound Used Stamp SetChina Pr Used 1968 Sc#982/90 Set, Mao’s Direction For Revolutionary LiteratureChina Old Cover Red Band !!8645aj Gb C2003-2009 Used Stamps & Minisheets Collection - Useful Catalogue Val?Great Britain Victoria 5s Sg 127 Plate 1 'newport Docks' C.d.s. (m009)Great Britain Victoria 1880-81 2d Value (sg 168) Unmounted Mint (m011)

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Who Gets Food Stamps? White People, Mostly
Huffington Post, February 28th

WASHINGTON -- Gene Alday, a Republican member of the Mississippi state legislature, apologized last week for telling a reporter that all the African-Americans in his hometown of Walls, Mississippi, are unemployed and on food stamps. "I come from a town...Read more

The real reason to start collecting stamps
BBC News, February 27th

Although the advent of email has hurt postal mail service in recent years, stamp collecting remains a passionate hobby as well as a valuable business and investment strategy in many countries. Billions of stamps have been issued since the British Penny ...Read more

Library To Host Stamp Collecting Event
Coronado Eagle and Journal, February 26th

The Coronado Public Library cordially invites children of all ages to a stupendous educational children's stamp collecting event on Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Winn Room of the Coronado Public Library. Our guest instructor is Captain...Read more

Stamp collector's decades of hobby
Bundaberg News Mail, February 24th

BACK in the 1930s Alison Rogers developed an interest in collecting stamps, an enthusiasm she still has today. Mrs Rogers said many people may still have an ETA peanut butter, an Ampol or an Embassy stamp album tucked away somewhere. "Back in the ...Read more

Collectors sift piles for rare stamps
Daytona Beach News-Journal, February 21st

Mike Daley became interested in stamp collecting when he was a kid. “The man (who lived) across the street was studying archaeology at Harvard and he gave me a bunch of stamps,” said Daley. “I've collected on and off ever since.” Daley joined the West ...Read more

Coronado Library To Host Stamp Collecting Event Feb. 25
Coronado Eagle and Journal, February 19th

The Coronado Public Library cordially invites children of all ages to a stupendous educational children's stamp collecting event on Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Winn Room of the Coronado Public Library. Our guest instructor is Captain...Read more

'Incredible' stamp collection could net Hampshire man £250000
Daily Echo, February 10th

Among the collection of used stamps was an uncut sheet of 19 rare 'candarin' stamps bought in 1882, by an English missionary in Shanghai, and kept for day to day postage use. The find is being described by experts as “incredible and unparalleled”...Read more

Library to host stamp collecting progarm
The Southern, January 29th

ANNA -- The Friends of Stinson Library will hold a stamp collecting program at 2 p.m. Feb. 8 in the library. The program will be presented by Vera Felts, executive director of the American Topical Stamp Association. Felts will share her interest in...Read more