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    

1949 China Red Meter ' $360,000 Postage Paid ' Mark Reg. Air Cover To Gb @ RareChina Old Mao Cover Tsingtao Tientsin To Landeck Austria 1950 !!Dt. Reich Nothilfe Block 1933 Mnh Signed Cv $ 9,100.-China Prc, 1980 T46 Genshen New Year Monkey, Xf Superb Unmounted Mint Mnh !!China Prc 1967 W1 Thoughts Of Mao Complete Strip W/imprint Margin, Vf, CvRare China Postcard To France 1914 Nice CancellationChina Old Hand Painted Postcard Shanghai To Hamburg Germany 1905 !!China Prc 1967 W7 Chairman Mao Poems Set Postal Used VfGreat Britain 1913 £1 Green Seahorse Sg 403 Fine-used (s005)Great Britain Qv £1 Green Used, 99p StartWw, China, Italian & French Colonies, 12000+ Stamps Hinged/loose In 6 Scott IntChina Prc, Originals!! Fantastic Stamp Collection On Minkus Pages, Many Nh!!China Old Imperial Stamps Large Dragon Collection Complete Set !!Italian States Naples 1858 Imperf Annullato Used Stamp Collection 1 X Laid PaperGb - Gv Royal Cypher Mint ControlsThe People's Republic Of China / Monkey - 8 Fen, 1980. With Stamp. Rare. Sg 129 £1 Brown-lilac,good Used Indistinct Light Cancel And Blue Crayon Stroke..Gb - Gv Downey Head Specialisted Mostly Mint CollectionSg 183a 10/- Pale Ultramarine A Fine Unmounted Mint Example Of This Difficult..Very Old China Cover To Pekin 1903 RareMomen: Prc China Stamps #566a S/s Souvenir Sheet Mint Og Nh Lot #9088Malaya Malaysia Strait Settlements Qeii 1965 Birds Fdc First Day Cover SingaporeChina 1898/05 Chinese Imperial Post Selection Of 10 Values To $1 Mounted MintQueen Victoria 1s Green Embossed Unusual Strip Of (5) Ex Postal Stat. (s002)China Old Junk Postcard Tihwa Urumtsi Bogdo Ula To Sweden 1928 !!China Prc 1968 W10 Instruction Chairman Mao Unfolded Strip Cto Used Nh-xf RareUs Stamp:#c15 $2.60 Blue 1930 Graf Zeppelin Air Mail Mh/og Stamp Gb - Gv Royal Cypher Specialised Mint Collection#2China 1912 Republic Of China O/p Coling Dragon Part Set Of 12 To $1 Mounted MintNystamps France Colonies Large Old Stamp Collection Scott AlbumSg212- Queen Victoria £1 Jubilee Stamp- Green Fine 1887 - 1892 Used Jersey Qv Us Stamp:#1 5c Red Brown Franklin 1847 Imperf Used Stamp Full MarginsWorldwide Huge Old Stamp Collection In Large Box, Commonweath/europe/asia/africaChina Postcard 1915 LungchowChina Dowager Stamp 2c ShiftChina Old Imperial Stamps Dowager Coiling Dragon Collection 1 !!Sg 6 2d Pale-blue Plate 1 Lettered K.l. Mint, No Gum, 4 Good To Large Margins..Gb Victoria 1887 Jubilee Fine Mnh/muh/mm Mint Part Stamp Set + Shades High CvClean Group Kangaroo Kgv Sturt, Kookaburra Swan All Os Perfin & Cto MelbourneRussia 1931 Zeppelin North Pole Flight R-cover C30-3 Cv $1350Ww, China, British Colonies, 1000's & 1000's Of Stamps In 5 Vol Harris Albums +Pakistan (bahawalpur) 1947 To 1r (on India) Sg 1-14 Unmounted Mint (cat. £620)1840 (july) Penny Black Cover, London To Leicester With Red Maltese Cross (s108)1878 Imperial China,large Dragon 3c, Thin Paper, Very Fine Used.Us 1902 Regulars Nh Complete Thru $5 #313 Cat $13,890Ckstamps : Us Old Stamps Scott#122 90c Pictorial 1869 Lincoln Used 2014 Cv$2100Sg 185a £1 Brown Lilac Variety Jc Frame Break (spec K15a) Good To Fine Used...1840 Sg2 1d Black Plate 2 Rare Unused (hh) Sg Cat £12500.00 99p StartChina Old Postcard Kirin Harbin To Bremen Germany 1909 !!1909 Us Coil. 10c Sc 356 . Never Hinged. Cat $8500Very Old China Cover 1905 RareChina Old Cover Registered Mail To Peking Russia Bank 1909 !!China 1898 Types $1 & $5 Used With WatermarkChina Prc 1971 50th Anniversary Set Mlh N12-20 Scott#1067-107​ Sg 2446-sg 2454 Momen: Austria Stamps #b111 Wipa Souvenir Sheet Mnh Og Choice Lot #7321™Pg-a397 Russia - Mh, 1935 Levanevsky, Moscow - S. Francisco Sc. C68 Cert. CaffazFrance 1869 5fr (sg 131) Cat Value £7,000 Hinged Mint Rare Stamp (s161)German Ww Ii Occupation Of Kotor, Michel 1-6 Mnh Signed With Ercegovic Cert1840 Sg2wi 1d Black Plate 1b "watermark Inverted" Red Maltese Cross (sl)

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Art & Antiques | Stamp collectors' bounty a window into the past
Centre Daily Times, August 23rd

The process of stamp collecting is almost as old as the stamp itself. There have been documented cases of meetings of stamp collectors taking place as early as 1841, and advertisements placed by like-minded individuals who enjoyed stamp collecting in...Read more

Start Stamp Collecting
Lock Haven Express, August 19th

The process of stamp collecting is nearly as old as the stamp itself. There have been documented cases of meetings of stamp collectors taking place as early as 1841 and advertisements placed by like-minded individuals who enjoyed stamp collecting in...Read more

Otis Barnes stamp collector — plain and simple
The Port Arthur News, August 18th

“I collected stamps when I was a kid, but not too much come to think of. I've been collecting really, sort of serious since 1980,” he said while admiring part of a collection that chronicles history from the time dinosaurs roamed the earth to today's...Read more

Roar of fighter jets features in new stamp collection
Taipei Times, August 15th

Stamp collecting enthusiasts have something to look forward to this month as Chunghwa Post is set to publish a set of aviation stamps on Aug. 27 that will allow them to hear the recorded sounds of the Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jet. The national...Read more

Stamp collector accidentally ends up in perfect town
Prescott Daily Courier, August 11th

The display helped Sente realize a dream of winning a grand award at one of the 30 national-level stamp shows certified by the American Philatelic Society as shows that qualify for the society's World Series. So Sente will now compete at the World...Read more

Meet a Postal Service groupie, the woman who will collect every stamp
Washington Post, August 8th

The Philadelphia woman isn't impressed with the bustling farmers market where the stamps are being unveiled; she's here to make sure she gets enough of them. Tittle is a stamp collector, though collector is too dull a word to describe her pursuit. A...Read more

WEEKEND: Stamp collectors hold show in Sequim on Saturday
Peninsula Daily, August 8th

SEQUIM — Stamp collecting has been called “the hobby of kings and the king of hobbies.” More than 5 million individuals in the United States collect the small pieces of paper that indicate payment of postage. Some individuals begin as young as age 4 ...Read more

How stamps tore a family apart
The Age, August 7th

The celebrated stamp collection of the late Melbourne art dealer Julian Sterling will be auctioned next week. But a legal wrangle over the fate of 44 valuable stamps has bitterly divided Sterling's relatives. Mark Hawthorne reports...Read more