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 Pr Used 1962 Sc#628 S/s Mei Lan-fang In Women’s Roles1980 T46 Monkey China Stamp With Margin MnhChina-very Rare-1898 Mixed Franking Postcard-chefoo-shanghai-hong Kong- GermanyChina Pr Mnh** 1962 Sc#620/27 Set Imp. Mei Lan-fang In Women’s RolesGb Collection Of Mint And Used Gv With Seahorses To £1 U/m Cat £11,000Sg121 2/- Brown Gu(591)Japan. Cover. 1895. Old Registered Cover To Russia From Japanese Post In Korea.Large Dragon Stamp Set Thick Paper Rough Cut Chan 10-12 ChinaLarge Dragon Stamp Set Thin Paper Chan 1-3 ChinaNystamps Us Stamp # 5a Used $10000 CertificateSg403 £1 Green Fu(560)Gb. Qv. Sg 129, £1 Brown Lilac. Very Fine Used.Sg438 £1 Puc Fu(560)Mnh Prc China Stamp C106m 15th Anniv Of Prc Sheet China Prc 1963 Landscapes And Mountains Set Mint CompleteNystamps Us Stamp # 244 Appear Mint Og Nh $7250C Greece: Fantastic Postal History Group 500+ Covers 1840s To 1950sChina-rare-1899 Mixed Franking Postcard-tientsin-shanghai-i.p.o-hong Kong- ItalyGreat Britain 1841 2d Blue With Unusual Maltese Cross (s193)Lot:11794 Gb Qv Lilac & Green Collection Mixed Fine Used And Mint Including SgDowager Stamp Set 1st Print Chan 22-30 ChinaNystamps Pr China Stamp # 943a Mint Og H $5000 Folded BetweenChina 1967 Complete Set Mao Set W1 Cto Used Nh Full Og Clean Great QualityChina-rare-1899 Mixed Franking Postcard-chefoo-shanghai-i.p.o-hong Kong- GermanyJapan Reg Cover Via Turkey And Austria To Sweden 1943, Vienna Passing CensorRed Revenue Stamp 4c Large Figure Chan 89 ChinaSg128 10/- Greenish Grey Gu(560)Gb Stamp Collection From 1840 With Um From 1935 Inc Kgv1 Arms Set & 1951 Hv'sKorea Stamps 1903 Sc#39-51 Complete Set Of Falcon Mint, Nh Cat.price $1,575 T44 1979 Prc Stamp Set With Margin China MnhRomania #18 Used On Cover - 1862 30pa Blue ($65)Noblespirit No Reserve Excellent Great Britain No.1 4mgns Used Lt. Cancel =$320 1840 Mulready Cover Used With Red MxNystamps Us Stamp # 67 Used $1150Nystamps Us Stamp # 292 Used $700Nystamps Us Stamp # 37 Mint With Gum H $1400Germany(-1945), Wonderful Stamp Collection In A Very Nice Davo Hingeless Album[54887] France 1941 Rare War Sheet Mnh Very Fine. Cv 800$Page Of Early China Stamps Mint & Used. Including Dragons.Small Dragon Stamp Set 11 3/4 With Margin Chan 19-21 ChinaChina 1897 Icp $1 Bean Goose Hinged MintNystamps Pr China Stamp # 948a Mint Og H $5750 Folded BetweenCkstamps : Us Old Stamps Scott #2 10c Black Imperf. 1847 Washington Used Cv$1050Small Dragon Stamp 1cd 11 3/4 Block Of 4 Blk4 Chan 19 ChinaNystamps Pr China Stamp # 1647 Mint Og Nh $400 Complete BookletGb Stamp Collection - Clearout - Accumulation - Glory Box - Hoard - Qv - QeiiGb. Qv. Sg 87, 9d Straw. Mounted Mint.Stamp Timbre S. Sheet .. China Prc Sc#1383a Science 1978 Mnh-og/luxe C$600.00Gb Gv Waterlow Seahorses Sg Spec # N72(1) (sg 403) 1913 £1 Mint Nh Cat £4800Italy 1930 Airmail Balbo Cruise L.7,70 Well Centered / Mnh / Signed G53901Q.v. 1841 1d Plate 47 'af' A Superb Top Margin Imprimatur Example1929 France Cover, Sc# 246, 2fr Le Havre Expo, Cv $1000.00 Only The StampItaly 1934 Air Service Coroncina L.10 Gold Overprint / Mnh / Signed G53900Gb. Qv. Sg 206, 4 1/2d Green & Carmine. Superb Block.Stamp Timbre 1 .. China Prc / Chine Sc#976 Mao Poems 1967 Mnh-og/luxe C$400.00Us Stamps # 293 $2 Trans-mississippi Mint Nh Cat Val $6000Victorian & Edwardian Stamps On Sg Album Pages Inc 1d Reds 2d BluesMnh Prc China Stamp W1 Sc938-48 Thoughts Of Mao Set Of 11Gb, Stunning Mint Stamp Collection From Early W/errors/shades, Huge Cv, AlbumRed Revenue Stamp 1c Chan 87 China

Recent News: Stamps

Source: Google News

Team 'Peanuts' thrilled new stamps will celebrate 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'
Washington Post, September 3rd

“PEANUTS” executive producer Lee Mendelson grew up in World War II-era America, enjoying a range of childhood hobbies in his native San Francisco. One of his favorites was collecting stamps. Now, 50 years after he helped bring “A Charlie Brown ...Read more

September 3, 2015 in Tom Vartabedian // When Stamp-Collecting Hits a Dead End
Armenian Weekly, September 3rd

Okay, that said, why would that be the only void in my collection since I started ordering stamps more than 50 years ago for my White Ace albums? Nobody could tell me. They just became very popular, was the answer I received. Could it be people have a ...Read more

90-year-old judge donates 11000 stamp collection
FOX 9 News, August 27th

ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KMSP) - Totaling more than 11,000 stamps, a 90-year-old from Albert Lea is donating his collection to a local museum. It has taken Bill Strutz a lifetime to amass the collection that will now reside in the Freeborn County Historical...Read more

Value of stamp collection, white residue on silver jewelry, more
Lewiston Sun Journal, August 26th

"In reality this price tends to be inflated, and you can almost always buy a stamp from a reputable dealer for less than this value. You can expect to get only a small percentage of this amount when selling," according to Peter G. Aitken, a stamp...Read more

Former judge to donate 11000 stamp collection to museum
Albert Lea Tribune, August 25th

When Albert Lea resident Bill Sturtz was 9 years old, his father's law partner introduced him to the hobby of stamp collecting. Sturtz said John Meighen wasn't a collector himself but had traveled extensively and had many overseas friends. About a week...Read more

Tribute to Country's Stamp Collector Kamal Patel, August 17th

Kamal Mohanbhai Patel who died recently in Chililabombwe's Konkola Mine Hospital was perhaps Zambia's sole passionate stamp collector. A man with a sweet and phlegmatic personality, Kamal had a knack for detail. Nobody gathered postage stamps ...Read more

Collector gets call from postal inspectors about early Elvis stamp purchase
Memphis Commercial Appeal, August 11th

A stamp collector in Memphis who purchased first-day covers of the new Elvis Presley postage stamp two days before its issue date says he was contacted by U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigators on Tuesday morning. “They were very kind; they were ...Read more

Playhouse season opener will resonate with stamp collectors
Omaha World-Herald, August 9th

It's impossible to know how many stamp collectors live in Omaha. But the metro area has three clubs devoted to the pursuit: the Omaha Philatelic Society — of which Rende is past president — the West Omaha Stamp Club and the Sarpy County Stamp Club...Read more