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December 11, 2014 Taking Some Time To Discuss The Vibrant History of Stamps

December 11, 2014 Taking Some Time To Discuss The Vibrant History of Stamps

On July 1st, 1847, the United States Post Office Department would issue their first postage stamps…but they were not the first.  In 1837, Sir Rowland Hill of Great Britain proposed a new idea of standardized prices for delivery of mail, or “postage”.  This new idea resulted in printed envelopes with pre-printed postage or adhesive labels placed onto them.  Not long after this discovery, the first stamp was soon to be born. 

On May 6, 1840 the British would pioneer the “Penny Black”, a black stamp signifying that a patron has paid the proper postage fee.  This stamp received the nickname due to the fact that it was black, and cost one cent.  These stamps would cover any letter delivery weighing a half-ounce or less within any of the British Isles.   Everyone knows that this stamp has long been credited as the “first stamp.”

The United States had obstacles to overcome before the final creation of their postage stamp, mainly the fact that postage costs in America were not standardized yet.  In 1845 US Lawmakers mandated the standardization of postage costs in America.  When this happened, New York City Postmaster Robert H Morris and some of his associates formally produced special stamps and markings that would officially signify that an individual had pre-paid for their postage.  Now these are known as Postmasters’ Provisionals; widely collected for their rich heritage.

A man named Alexander M. Greig, owner of the New York City Despatch Post; a private carrier within NYC produced the first adhesive stamps starting February 1st, 1842.  The US Government bought out this business and continued Greig’s legacy with the idea of continuing to use adhesive stamps to signify payment for postage.

Thus in 1847 on March 3rd, Congress authorized the first printed adhesive postage stamps.  Again, the first of these stamps were available for purchase July 1st, 1847 in New York City.  One stamp was five cents, depicting a picture of Benjamin Franklin.  The other—a ten-cent stamp that featured a picture of George Washington.  They were cut from printed adhesive sheets with no perforations.  In 1856, the USPS issued another five cent stamp featuring Thomas Jefferson.  Then, in 1863, a two-cent stamp with Andrew Jackson appearing on it was created.  To this day, George Washington is the most-used face for American postage stamps. 

All of these pre-20th century stamps are valued collectors’ items now.  This is why it’s important that if you’re fortunate enough to hold one of these pieces of history that you defend them properly. If you’re wondering how, we have plenty of stamp collecting supplies for you to choose from.

Since then, stamps have evolved into pieces of artwork.  They are distributed and sold designed to commemorate public service officials as well as honor national icons or celebrities.  The USPS has featured stationary, commemorative stamps, stamp booklets, non-denominated stamps and more.  With such a rich history full of character development and artistic detail, it’s important that collectors use products from companies such as SAFE® Collecting Supplies to preserve these beautiful works of history and art.  Check our selections today!