The History of Postage Stamps

rare stampsIn this quick post, we’d like to discuss the history of postage stamps. Each of these sections is filled with verified information about the development of today’s postal service. By the end of the article, you’ll understand why they have been an important aspect of our society for generations. Check here if you’d like to learn about where to buy stamps.

Here are the sections that are going to be described in depth throughout this article.

  • History
  • Penny Black
  • Use in the U.S.
  • Other Countries
  • Used Today

The Beginning

While some people laid claim to the invention of the postage stamp, it’s documented that the first one was introduced in the 1840’s. The first countries to use stamps were Great Britain, Ireland, and United Kingdom.

Their primary purpose was to be used as evidence that someone had paid for their postage. However, there were a few complications with the postal service during the 1840s. People found that it was too confusing and too hard for users to send their mail correctly.

At this time, the post office industry was in need of serious reform. This reform was started by a man named Sir Rowland Hill.

Post Office Reform Era

In 1837, Sir Rowland Hill created the “Post Office Reforms.” Throughout the reform, mail could go throughout the British Isles for the same rate (a penny for a half ounce). The payment was receipted by putting a small piece of paper on the letter’s outside.

Before it was introduced, the postage fee was charged to the sender and not the recipient. However, it was still possible to send out mail without prepaying. When the first stamps were being used, postmarks were created to prevent them from being reused.

Rowland Hill is important to postage stamp history because of his innovative ideas. Hill produced a booklet that described his plans for reform. The book was widely distributed and became popular amongst the public. It was released on February 22, 1837.

history stamps

The booklet contained over 28,000 words and was given to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Spring Rice. After that, most of England began to incorporate some of the ideas that Rowland would start to explain throughout his booklet.

Some of Rowland’s ideas turned into new policies. One of his new ideas is to have the post office charge by weight. The heavier the object, the higher the cost it took to ship it. This new design was made to help post offices correctly charge customers and efficiently receive a profit off of the mail they sent throughout the UK.

Penny Black Stamps

Rowland Hill was the first person to create the official postage stamp. He assigned the value of one penny and had the appearance of Queen Victoria.

During this time they were printed with a background. They were known as the “Penny Black” stamps which started to gain a lot of popularity during this era. They were “imperforated”; this means that people had to cut open the sheets manually. Perforated stamps did not appear until 1853 in the United States.

During this time, they began to become very popular worldwide. In 1847, the United States Post Office Department created their own versions. The first U.S. stamp was a 5-cent picture of Benjamin Franklin and a 10-cent picture of George Washington.

Postage Stamps in the U.S.

The United States used postage during World War II. During this time 3-Cent stamps were made to celebrate the U.S. victory against the Axis Powers. Thirteen unique and rare variations were created in regards to the different countries that were freed during the war.

They represented the countries of Austria, Poland, Norway, Luxembourg, France, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Belgium, Greece, and Korea.

On each of these, there is a phoenix placed on the left of the country. It represented a renewal of life. Placed on the right of the stamp is a kneeling female that symbolizes the country’s freedom from servitude.

During this time, the printing process for U.S. postage stamps had an elaborate process. Due to this detailed process to make full-color prints, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing contacted the American Bank Note Company.

stamps from around the world

The American Bank Note Company is a private company that was given the task to produce them. As time progressed, they helped manufacture over 2 million stamps from 1942 to 1945. Because of their widespread distribution, they became a prominent feature in the postage industry.

Other Countries and Postage Stamps

While the Penny Black Stamps could be used to send letters anywhere in the United Kingdom, Swiss didn’t follow the system at first. Instead, the country began to calculate the mail rate based on the distance it took to deliver it.

Brazil used the Bull’s Eye stamp on August 1, 1843. They used the same printer as the Penny Black stamp printer. Brazil decided to use an image of the Emperor Pedro II. The image was abstract in design so that it would not lose quality by the postmark.

Postage Stamps Used Today

Today, postage stamps are used in mail institutions throughout the world. They are used as proof that a person paid for their mail to be successfully delivered.

In April 2007, the US Postal Service created a new version for First Class mail. US Forever Stamps, never expire, so their value remains constant. Today, they are used by large online stores such as Amazon to track the package that a user has ordered.

Where Can I Buy Stamps

Even though stamps are well past there prime, they are still useful today. If you’d like to learn where you can buy stamps please check out the homepage of this site. It has a detailed list of all the retailers you should try. It also talks about the ones you should avoid.

Closing Remarks

Based on there history, they have created a large impact on the mailing industry. It’s been used to help people get to send and receive mail efficiently and quickly. Ultimately, having them is a worthy investment as each of the will increase in value over time.

Understanding their history helps you see the development of today’s post offices. Each stamp has been used for a variety of purposes such as sending mail, shipping packages, and filing and sending important legal documents.


2017-11-09T17:30:29+00:00July 6th, 2017|

About the Author:

Hi everyone! My names Jennifer and I'm obsessed with mail. I love receiving mail, sending mail, and writing letters. Oh, and I may have a small obsession with stamp collecting too. If you share my passion, or just want to buy some stamps I'm more than happy to help you out. If you can't find what you're looking for on my website, feel free to contact me directly!