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.

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Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Lesterville's Luellen Cook Is Honored by Her Local Post Office
Wayne County Journal Banner, July 2nd

Family and friends of Luellen Laramore Cook gathered recently at the Fellowship Baptist Church in Lesterville for a special ceremony as reported by The Mountain Echo in Ironton. Luellen, 92, is a retired teacher and avid stamp collector and was the...Read more

Wilfred J. "Willy" Butkofski, 92, Paynesville
WJON News, July 2nd

Willy enjoyed ice fishing, bowling, woodworking, stamp and coin collecting. He is survived by his wife, Gen; children Nancy (John) Frobenius of St. Cloud, Jim (Debi) Butkofski of Paynesville; grandchildren Kristin (Paul) Wetzel, Tricia (Brian) LaCanne...Read more

Celebrating the Fourth in the Hills
OCRegister, July 1st

The Long Beach Stamp Club is moving its meeting location to the Faith Lutheran Church of Anaheim beginning July 7. Meetings will be 7 to 9 p.m. and anyone interested in stamp collecting is welcome to attend. According to Marty Jadus, club president...Read more

What happened to the $1.8 billion surplus in Florida?, July 1st

In a state of almost 20 million residents, 100 million tourists and a $78 billion annual budget, how we collect and spend our revenues are important. We are a low-tax state with no state income tax. A good portion of our revenues ... When the real...Read more

Janus buys stake in Kapstream Capital, gaining help for Bill Gross
Los Angeles Times, July 1st

bond geek, with prominent appearances in financial publications and television shows. Stories described his early success as a card-counting blackjack player banned from Las Vegas casinos and described his fascination with yoga and stamp collecting...Read more

Organizations Calendar (July 1)
Las Cruces Sun-News, July 1st

Mesilla Valley Stamp Club: 6 p.m. Thursday in the Roadrunner Room, Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho Ave. Free and open to anyone interested in stamp collecting. Info: Richard Hiss, 575 202-1937. Doña Ana Photography Club: 7 p.m. ...Read more

Philatelists behave badly in play about stamp collection
Topeka Capital Journal, June 18th

Jackie (Darria Dennison) threatens to burn a pair of potentially rare stamps when she finds herself in a dispute over their ownership in Theresa Rebeck's “Mauritius,” which Washburn University Theatre will open Friday in the university's Andrew J. and...Read more

A Stamp, Tiny and Rare, Fulfills a Boyhood Dream
New York Times, June 4th

Mr. Weitzman, 73, pretty much gave up stamp collecting in his late teens and went on to achieve notoriety and wealth designing shoes — strappy gladiator sandals, sultry thigh-high boots and dozens of others made from everything from cork to Lucite...Read more