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    

Italy ** 1961 Gronchi Rosa L.205 - Mnh - Diena Certificate - Scott #834a G39793Sg 137 £5 Orange Very Fine Used Glasgow Cds April 4th 1895 & Blue Crayon...Great Britain 1913 Waterlow £1 Green Sg 403 Fine-used (d752)China Prc 1980 T46 Year Of Monkey Unaddress Fdc RareAustralia 2014 Remembrance Day Pnc - Limited Edition Sold Out!!!! #443/1,111Great Britain 1929 Puc £1 Black Sg 438 Fine-used (d951)Sg 5 2d Blue Plate 1 Lettered D.h. Very Fine Used Red Maltese Cross...Russia. Sc. C68b. Sk 420ka, Cv $1800.00+. San-fransico Over. Mlhog. CertifiedUs Early Dealer's Stock Of Used With #1's, #2, #122. Cat $14,117Well Filled Lincoln Album 2700 + Pre 1940 StampsRussia. Sc. C68. Sk 420kf, Cv $1500.00+. San-fransico Over. Mnhog. CertifiedGreat Britain 1902 £1 Dull Blue Green (sg 266) Very Fine Used (d753)Extensive Collection- 38,000 Stamps- Scott & Minkus Albums-classics Throughout !Italy, Germany, Austria, Wonderful Mint Nh Amg Stamp Collection Mounted On Great Britain(-1993), Pristine Mint(most Nh) Stamp Collection In A Scott SpecialItaly ** 1954 Parcel Post L.1000 Cavallino Blue Wheel Wmk - Raybaudi Cert G397948305aj Gb C2006-2013 Presentation Packs Collection - Good Catalogue And Face ???France: 1fr Napoleon Vfu Signed Pfenninger(703) Very Good Lightly Cancelled 1888 Qv £1.00 Brown Lilac (sg186)(701) Very Good Used 1878 Qv 10/- Greenish Grey (sg128)Great Britain 1840 2d Blue (sg 5) Four Margins, Black Mx Fine-used (d656)Great Britain Queen Victoria £5 Orange Sg 137 Very Poor Quality (d995)Sg 1 1d Intense Black Plate 7 Lettered Q.i. Superb Used Red Maltese Cross..Ckstamps Ny Ebay : Us Old Stamps Scott #244 $4 Columbian 1893 Used 2014 Cv$1150Greece 1906 Second Olympics Set Mh Signed Upon Request [t01]Italian States - Moderna, Parma, Papal States, Sardinia, Tuscany, Sicily, Etc. Italy & Colonies, Wonderful Stamp Collection Hinged In A 1960 Scott SpecialtyChina 1912 Coiling Dragon Waterlow Overprint Set To $1 Hinged MintSg403 - £1 Green Seahorse, Average Used - Cv £1250China 1880-90s Small Dragon, Dowager And Red Revenue Accumulation1937 France Pexip Paris Sg Ms581 Mnh/** (cat £550+)Sg 43 1d Rose Red Plate 225. A Lightly Mounted Mint Part Marginal...Ckstamps Ny Ebay : Us Old Stamps Scott #243 $3 Columbian 1893 Used 2014 Cv$900Sg438 - Puc £1 Black, Fu, - Cv £550Sg266 - £1 Dull Green, Vfu With 2 "gracechurch" Regd Oval Cancels - Cv £800+Philippines, Lovely Stamp Collection Hinged/mounted In A Scott SpecialtyNystamps Us Stamp # 241 Mint Og H $1100China Prc 1974 Industrial Products Set Of 4 Mnh, N17China (sc651) Sg 2037 - 43 - 7 Values Of The 1962 Set - Vfu - No Top Value China Taiwan 1950 Sc#1012-24 C64 Koxinga Complete Set Mnh-xf 8301aj Germany States Mint & Used Stamp Collection - Worthwhile Considering/viewLot:8089 Gb Qv Sg43 1d Red Plate 124 Block Of 12 Mounted Mint Only On The TopVq003 Siam Thailand 1894 Sheet Of 120 " 1 Att On 64 Atts " Mnh/ MhFrance: Superb Bordeaux Set Incl 20c Type 1 Vfu PrettyFrance Stamp Collection In Scott Specialty Album Pages From 1849 - 2000 China Prc 1978 National Science Miniature Sheet Unused, J25mGreat Britain 1840 Penny Black (p E) Plate 2, Four Margins Fine-used (d648)1854 Registered Cover Liverpool - London 10d Embossed Sg 57, 2d Blue (d868)1869 Us Pictorial 90c Sc 122 Used Cat $21001847 Us Imperf 10c Sc 2 Used Cat $1000Taiwan 1951 Division Of Country Miniature Sheet UnusedCkstamps : Us Stamps Scott #2 10c On-piece Black 1847 Imperf. Used 2014 Cv$1400Greece 1913 Campaign 1912 Set Mh Signed Upon Request [t02]China Prc 1960 Goldfish Set Of 12 Mnh, S38Us $5 Columbian 1893 Sc 245 Hh Cat Value $2500France/frankreich In Kabe Album. (90 Pics)Russia (1) 1950's Used / Mnh Collection / Stock In Big StockbookChina 1978 Horses Set + Ms ( T26 ) Mnh** Genuine And Very Good ! (fw13/224)China Old Imperial Postcard Registered Mail Chefoo To Germany 1912 !!China Old Imperial Postcard Tsining To Tenghien 1908 !!

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Governor kicks off state park passport program
The Record-Courier, December 17th

Fire in Clark County, to the alpine splendor of Wildhorse State Recreation Area in northern Elko County. Passports will be available at the state parks. Residents may either collect stamps by visiting the park or call 775-684-2770 to receive a...Read more

James 'Jim' J. Rosenow
Winona Daily News, December 16th

Jim had a broad variety of hobbies, including hiking/backpacking, walking, bike riding, golf, stamp collecting, antiques, sports cars, photography, reading, listening to music, vegetable gardening and providing help to his friends and neighbors. He has...Read more

SAFE Collecting Supplies Offering Effective and Efficient Stamp Collection ...
Digital Journal, December 15th

This winter, they are proudly offering a wide selection of collecting supplies, albums, cases, sleeves and accessories for stamp collectors nationwide. SAFE® Collecting Supplies also accommodates collectors of coins, currency, rocks and minerals and more...Read more

The science behind a stamp
News-Press Now, December 13th

For stamp collectors, the tiny pieces of postage are much more than a way to send a letter in the mail. Although the value of individual stamps can range from less than the purchase price to thousands of dollars, it is about more than collecting...Read more

Pos Malaysia: Stamp-collecting can be a profitable investment
The Star Online, December 7th

KUALA LUMPUR: Stamp-collecting could become a profitable investment for those who are smart enough to exploit it. Pos Malaysia's Stamp and Philately Unit head Diyana Lean Abdullah said this was because the value of stamps could change quickly ...Read more

Stamp Collecting Is A Profitable Hobby - Pos Malaysia
Bernama, December 6th

"Stamp collectors will usually choose a stamp based on its uniquness while the year of publishing also plays a part, as the older it is, the higher its value," she told Bernama at the Kuala Lumpur World Youth Stamp Exhibition (KLwyse) 2014 at the Kuala ...Read more

South Florida collectors dedicated to preserving, studying stamps from Cuba
MiamiHerald.com, November 25th

Ever since he was 9, Miguel Angel de Dios has collected stamps that hearken back to the colonial age of his native Cuba. Now the 78-year-old collector serves as director of the Cuban Philatelic Society of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to...Read more

Valuable stamp collection including rare Penny Black stolen from 92-year-old ...
Gazette Live, November 25th

Prized possessions including a valuable stamp collection containing a Penny Black were stolen in a burglary in Eaglescliffe. The incident took place sometime between Sunday November 9 and Monday November 24 at an address on Poplar Road...Read more