If you are a keen stamp collector then you would love to know, or perhaps already know, about the history of postage stamps. The history of postage stamps is vast because different countries started its usage at different times. May 6 1840 marked the official release of the first postage stamp with Queen Victoria featuring on its face. The stamp was launched in England.
Postage stamps with portrait of Queen Victoria were issued for the subsequent sixty years. It was followed by 100 different versions of postage stamps during that time. In the history of postage stamps, Brazil was the second nation to release postage stamps. Year 1847 marked the entry of United States in the history of postage stamps.
First two postage stamps of United States bore the imprints of George Washington and Ben Franklin. In the year 1852, the sale of first pre-stamped envelopes took place. Pre-stamped postcards followed this after 19 years. In those times, pre-stamped postcards cost around one penny.
There was a remarkable change in the United States, as it became mandatory to use postage stamps. Thus, it led to prepaid mails. Perforated stamps made their arrival in United States in the year 1857. They became an instant hit among people.
History of Postage Stamps
Postage stamps became an active part of mailing in nearly all the countries by the year 1860. Pictorial stamps came into existence by the year 1869 in United States. They featured something unique. Commemorative stamps came into being in the year 1893. These postage stamps mainly depicted Columbus voyage, the event which led to the founding of America.
Year 1900 marked the sale of first stamp booklet. Year 1940 holds special mention in the history of postage stamps. It featured the first African-American, Booker T Washington.
Prices of postage stamps have gone down considerably. However, the prices of rare stamps have gone up as well. But collectors do not mind paying extra if the stamp is worth the price charged.
Depiction and presentation of postage stamps have gone through a major change as well. In earlier times, letters were usually hand stamped. Henry Bishop was the man behind these postmarks.
Rowland Hill invented adhesive postage stamp in the year 1837. First postage rates were created by Roland Hill and based on weight. Roland Hill made the prepayment system of mail functional.
Canton of Zurich (in Switzerland) also issued its own postage stamp. With the introduction of postage stamp in United States, there was a considerable increment in the number of letters mailed! You can get more information about the history of postage stamps from varied sources. The internet is the major source amongst them.
History of British Postage Stamps
In 1510, a postal system was set up in order to handle the King’s royal post. Two centuries later, a general post office was created in London. Initially, the cost of sending a letter was a function of the distance it had to travel, and the total number of pieces of paper in the envelope.
So, a single letter going up to fifteen miles was four pennies, while sending one from London to Edinburgh, Scotland would run just over a shilling. That might not sound like much, but for the average worker that was a day’s pay back then!
Also, in a rather unique twist, the postage was paid by the receiver instead of the sender. This had the potential for trouble, if the person getting the letter was less than enthusiastic about forking over a substantial portion of their weekly take home pay.
Thus it was decided to eliminate that whole issue by selling stamps that the sender would buy and then glue to the outside of the envelope. In May of 1840, the world’s first prepaid adhesive postage stamp, the Black Penny, was offered for sale. As it was during the reign of Queen Victoria, her portrait was used on it, as it would be easily recognizable by the general public.
As a little side trivia, the portrait used was taken from the Wyon City Medal of 1837 that William Wyon created in 1834, when (then) Princess Victoria was only fifteen years old.
Since the Black Penny was the very first stamp, the postal service decided not to include the name of the country. This is a tradition that continues to this day; no British stamps ever have the country’s name appear on them. Another custom is to have the monarch facing to the left.
The British are quite tradition-minded. And, unlike the United States, they allow a living person’s face to appear on a stamp. Normally, it is the reining monarch’s likeness.
The man principally responsible for the creation of the stamp was Rowland Hill. He wrote a report in 1837 saying that envelopes and stamps should be standardized. The success of his program is evident by the sheer volume of letters the postal system carried. In 1839, it was just under seventy-five million.
By 1850, it was nearly three hundred and fifty million! He also advocated putting mail boxes on every home to make it easier for the mail to be delivered.
These results were not lost on the rest of the world. During the 1840’s, Brazil, the United States, France and Belgium all started issuing postage stamps. By 1850, close to eighty-five countries and other entities were selling stamps.
Today, it is done worldwide, and some places – like Vatican City – actually generate considerable income from the sale of stamps. Of course, with the advent of the Internet and e-mail, the need for stamps has decreased slightly in industrialized nations.
But, not to worry, stamps will continue to be used throughout the world for some time to come. After all, the same thing was said when the telegraph was invented, and when the telephone went into widespread use. So, stamp collectors everywhere will have colorful and artistic stamps to fill their books, for years to come.
Uniqueness Of Canadian Postage Stamps
Canadian postage stamps are highly collectable. One of the reasons for their collectability is their unusual beauty. This beauty is a result of the unique stamp production method.
There are two types of stamps issued in Canada. The first is the definitive stamp used for regular mailing. The second is the commemorative stamp which recognizes special events throughout the year.
The definitive stamp is actually a series of stamps representing a range of monetary values. This series is usually a grouping of design types that will remain in place for a specific period of time.
The works of famous artists are often used as stamp designs. In addition, Canada features living people on definitive stamps. This is in stark contrast to the US where it is against the law to feature living people on stamps.
The process for creating Canadian postage stamps has evolved over the years. The current production process has resulted in some of the most visually stunning stamps ever created. In fact, Canada routinely wins major awards for stamp design excellence.
Prior to 1967, Canadian postage stamps were printed in a manner similar to that of banknotes. This engraving method was purposefully designed to prevent duplication and forgery of stamps.
The modern production method continues the process established after 1967 that allows unrestricted use of color in stamp design. As a result, stamp designs are no longer restricted to one-color or two-color models. Stamp designers have a more complete color palette from which to work.
This has led to the creation of some of the most incredible stamp designs that include and often times combine embossing, silver and gold elements, and foil stamping. This combination produces visual enrichment in Canadian postage stamps. Holograms have even been designed for several stamps.
In addition to the actual design of the stamps, Canada has experimented with various types of paper. Combined with the printing methods described, this has resulted in unusual Canadian postage stamps.
Canada has also created a plethora of themes of stamps in various colors. Canadian postage stamps often depict Canada’s history in the form of minute pictures. This has led many collectors to establish collections that focus on this history, much of which is directed toward the country’s postal record.
There are other subjects that are of particular interest to collectors. One such subject is Canadian ships. Another subject is famous people. Stamps in these subject areas are highly coveted by stamp collectors around the world.
For additional information, visit the Canadian Postal Museum online.
The Museum preserves all things associated with postal history in Canada. The National Stamp Collection is located at the Museum. The Collection includes examples of each and every Canadian postage stamp issued in the history of Canada.
Elvis Postage Stamp The King Is Dead
I know this may be heartbreaking to some die hard Elvis fans, but “The King” is dead. Among the many rules governing United States Postage Stamps is one that states that no living person can appear on a stamp. Since the U.S. Elvis stamp was issued in 1993, we have to conclude that he has truly passed on.
This rule stands in stark contrast to the United Kingdom, where not only can a living person appear on a stamp, but it is the custom for the reining monarch to be on most of the stamps.
As previously stated, the United States issued its Elvis stamp in 1993. However, it was not the first stamp issued to commemorate the “King of Rock and Roll.” No, that honor falls to – of all nations – the small country of Grenada, a nation known for producing many varieties of colorful postage stamps. In 1978, to commemorate the first anniversary of his death, the country released its Elvis stamp.
Since the 1980’s many more nations, over forty in all, have printed some type of Elvis postage stamp. In fact, some have created completely new sets on a regular basis throughout the years. The United States’ version was rather unique in the annuals of postage stamps.
For the first time, the Postal Service asked the general public to vote on which picture should appear on a stamp. They could opt for the youthful Elvis, or the more mature one.
Thus, in 1993, the votes were tabulated and the young Elvis commemorative postage stamp was released to the public. It proved to be a sensation, selling over 517 million copies, and making it the single most popular commemorative stamp ever issued!
While very colorful and a great picture, the stamp will never be of any value to collectors. Unfortunately, it violates the cardinal rule of collection for profit: rarity. In order for any stamp to reach the heights of great value, there can not be a lot of copies of it around.
Case in point: The most valuable postage stamp in the world is the 1856 one-cent “Black on Magenta” of British Guiana, with a cancellation mark. It is quite the ugly little slip of paper: rectangular, with the corners snipped off to give it a rough octagonal shape.
In 1980, the one remaining copy of it sold for $935,000! So, if you go by weight alone, that would make it just about the single most valuable object on the planet.
So, the Elvis stamp will never be of any monetary value, probably not even its face value. Yet, it’s doubtful that fans will be at all concerned about that. No, they still love it, simply as yet another beautiful memory of “The King.” After all, there are other ways of measuring value than simply monetarily.
History of French Postage Stamps
Well, as its name implies, these are stamps used by the French to send letters and parcels throughout their country. Their postal system, original created in the 1840’s (following the success of the British system), has had to deal with a problem common to just about every field of human endeavor: forgeries.
It might sound strange, making fakes of postage stamps; after all, the profit margin can not hope to approach that of so-called “funny money” – forged currency.
Yet, the “enterprise” has its pluses. In general, people do not pay close attention to a stamp. After all, the amount is usually rather minimal. Also, once the stamp is canceled, the cancellation mark tends to obscure the image. So, for businesses engaged in bulk mailing, fake stamps offer a means of saving considerable sums of money.
In just the last century, the French had to deal with three major forgery incidents involving their postal system. In December of 1900, three new series of postage stamps were issued to replace the “Type Sage” stamps.
Their values were one, two and five Francs, a tidy sum, for the time. However, the stamps were not popular because of a reduction in their postal rates. Wow, a reduction! If only that were the case today. Yet, I digress. Still, the forgeries were considered quite good, only distinguished by four minor errors. It is easy to see why they could be slipped into general circulation.
As a side note, the forgeries have been the subject of over thirty articles on the subject of fake stamps from 1912 to as late as 1990! That says something for the quality of the artwork and effort put into creating them.
Then, in 1930 a stamp to commemorate the Bureau International du Travail (also known as the BIT) was the subject of yet another forgery. After a thorough investigation by the postal inspectors, it was determined that the text font and the alignment of the characters were a dead giveaway.
As the denominations were only fifty cents and one Franc, the forgeries were not a major blow to the postal service’s income.
As late as 1975, yet another incident occurred. In January of 1971, the 0.50 Franc Marianne de Bequet was released when the postal rate was increased from 0.40 Francs to 0.50. By early 1975, stories began to circulate that forgeries of the stamp were being printed.
Some people thought this was just a ploy to generate interest among philatelists (stamp collectors). After all, the postal rate had been raised to 0.80 Francs in 1974; why would anyone create forgeries of an older series of stamps?
Yet, in time, it was established that fakes had been slipped into circulation.
It is interesting to note that forged stamps are not treated the same as fake money, some collectors actual want them! As they are often unique and in short supply, this makes them highly desirable to philatelists.