StampNews.com would like to share very interesting info concerning stamp collecting, to be precise the roots of this hobby. This article is devoted to the first ever issued postage stamps that were introduced by Postal Authorities from around the world. So let`s go deep in the history of stamps to understand that these tiny items are, in fact, an important part of the development of each nation.


Postage stamps have long and very captivating history. People still debate about the man who has invented this thing. There are a lot of candidates to the title of the first stamp inventor. According to the documents, postage stamps appeared in the United Kingdom in 1840 and became a crucial part of postal reforms. From that time till now the sender not the recipient pays postage fee with the help of stamps. First countries that also adopted the usage of postage stamps were Switzerland, Brazil, the United States of America and India, so these states are real pioneers. It is doubtless, that these particular states have the richest history connected with different postage stamps.

All first stamps had the same size and shape, they were rectangular and different famous political figures, including Queens and Presidents were depicted on them. After a while the shape, size and pictures of postage stamps changed, some changes were warmly welcomed by citizens and other changes were widely criticized not only by citizens but also by the press. In 1869 occurred a big scandal in the U.S., because the post office used pictures of horse and train together with pictures of Presidents. Can you imagine a sheet of post stamps without perforations? During the first decades of stamps existence there were no perforations. In 1854 the United Kingdom was the first to use perforation and “The Penny Red” had become the first perforated postage stamp.

First postage stamp in the whole world - UK

Penny Black has become the first postage stamp in the whole world that was used in a public postal system. Queen Victoria was depicted on this stamp and it was produced 1840. This stamp isn’t a very rare one, because it was printed more than 68 million stamps, and practically all of them were printed in black color. Mint blocks were made without perforations and one mint of these stamps can be bought for 4000 pounds.

The stamp was originally for use only within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and as such was in effect initially a local stamp. For this reason the name of the country was not included within the design, a situation which continued by agreement with foreign post offices, provided the sovereign's effigy appeared on the stamp. Envelopes sold with postage paid did not include this, so were marked with the country's name. In 1951, the special commemorative issue for the Festival of Britain included the name "Britain" incidentally. It could therefore be said that the name of the country then appeared for the first time on a stamp of the UK, although the word "British" had appeared on British Empire Exhibition commemorative stamps of 1924.

It soon became obvious that black was a not a good choice of stamp colour, since any cancellation marks were hard to see, and from 1841 onwards, the stamps were printed in a brick-red colour. The Penny Reds continued in use for decades with about 21 billion being produced.

Penny Red

United States

The postal history of the United States was rather haphazard until after the Revolutionary War, when eventually a national postal system was established. Stampless letters, paid for by the receiver, and private postal systems, continued until the introduction of adhesive postage stamps, first issued by the U.S. government post office July 1, 1847 in the denominations of five and ten cents.

First national postage stamps

The first stamp issues were authorized by an act of Congress and approved on March 3, 1847. The earliest known use of the Franklin 5¢ is July 7, 1847, while the earliest known use of the Washington 10¢ is July 2, 1847.

The 5-cent stamp is considered to be very rare because each of these items were hand engraved in what is believed to be steel, and laid out in sheets of 200 stamps. A fresh and brilliantly printed 5-cent stamp is prized by collectors.

Nowadays the demand is such that a very fine 5¢ sells for around $500 as of 2003, and the 10¢ in very fine condition sells for around $1,400 in used form. Unused stamps are much scarcer, fetching around $6,000 and $28,000 respectively, if in very fine condition. One can pay as little as 5 to 10 percent of these figures if the stamps are in poor condition.

So the full series of first national postage stamps included a 1¢ profile of Franklin in blue, a 3¢ profile of Washington in red brown, a 5¢ portrait of Thomas Jefferson, and portraits of Washington for 10¢ green and 12¢ black values. Sometimes they are difficult to define and even sharp-eyed collectors periodically find the rare types going unrecognized.

Canada

The postal and philatelic history of Canada concerns the territories which have formed the Canada of today. Before the Canadian confederation was united, the British colonies which were British Columbia and Vancouver Island, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland issued stamps in their own names.

New Brunswick

The first stamp issued in New Brunswick was unveiled in 1851. These were four stamps that were diamond-shaped and bore the New Brunswick coat of arms. The items were imperforate and denominated in pence. In 1860, six new stamps, denominated in cents, were issued. The 1¢ depicted a steam locomotive, the 2¢, 5¢, and 10¢ values showed a young Queen Victoria, while the 12½¢ depicted a steamship and the 17¢ showed the Prince of Wales in Highland regalia.

Newfoundland

This region has a long postal history. To be precise Newfoundland had issued stamps for the period of 90-year. The first issues were in 1857. The last issue was in 1947, 2 years prior to Newfoundland joining the confederation. Newfoundland stamps remain valid for postal mail delivered anywhere in Canada.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia's first issue was from 1851 to 1857, in pence. The second issue, in cents, was from 1861 to 1863.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island issued stamps in pence from 1862–1865, and a second series from 1868 to 1870. The third series, in cents, was issued in 1872.

France

Ceres series become the first postage stamps in France and they were firstly published in 1849. Ceres is depicted on all these stamps, the image and gravure were made by Jacques-Jean Barre. These stamps were introduced due to the postal reform, there were several variants of them. The first two were 20 centimes black and 1 franc red. They were followed by 40 centimes orange and 20 centimes blue stamps. The whole first series of French stamps wasn’t perforated but was published in several colors, philatelists value these postage stamps.

Germany

In Germany were published several well-known, rare and very expensive postage stamps. One kreuzer black has become the first postage stamp produced in Bavaria, it happened in 1849 and Munich has become the hometown for this stamp. In 1849 it cost 1 kreuzer and all interested people can buy unused one kreuzer black for 600 dollars and used one for 1,600 dollars. All in all it was published 832,500 postage stamps and the present number of them is unknown.

Belgium

First Belgium stamps were called Epaulettes and on all of them King Leopold I was depicted. Originally they were published in Brussels in 1849 and there were two variants. The first variant was brown and cost 10 centimes and the second one was blue and cost 20 centimes. These postages stamps had no perforations and soon were replaced by other stamps. Nevertheless, these stamps were the first and one mint block costs 7,100 Euro now.

Brazil

The first postage stamps published in Brazil have very interesting and non-trivial name, they were called Bull’s Eye. The initial Brazilian stamp was published on 1 August 1843. There were three stamps with different price, 30, 60 and 90 reis. There were printed more than 2 million stamps of this kind, these stamps started the tradition of non-trivial names. Stamps created after Bull’s Eye were known as cat’s eye, goat’s eye and even snake eye.

India

On the first Indian Stamp was depicted Queen Victoria, it was published 1854 and was created without perforations. People had to cut the stamps from the large sheet with the help of scissors. Lately the whole sheet of these stamps was sold for 700 and 2200 dollars. This stamp was published in red using Coat of Arms as the watermark.

Switzerland

Switzerland also created interesting and well-known postage stamp — Basel Dove. It has become the first stamp in the whole world, that was printed in three colors. This three-color stamp was produced in the Swiss canton of Basel in 1845. On this stamp was depicted a dove with a letter in its beak and it was a symbol of postal service at that canton. It was printed in black, crimson and blue. Basel Dove is a very rare postage stamp, total number of these stamps is unknown and they are estimated in 18,000-37,000 Swiss francs. Originally it was printed only 41,480 Basel Dove stamps.

Ceylon

Practically all British colonies had also created their own stamps, Ceylon didn’t become an exception to this rule. Postage stamp, which is called Dull Rose was firstly published in 1859. In 19th century this stamp cost 4 pence and now is considered to be one of the most expensive and rare Ceylon postage stamps.

Japan

The first overprinted postage stamp was created in Japan. This is the first commemorative overprinted postage stamp in the world. It is called Hong Kong Jubilee and was published in 1891. This stamp is a rare one and features perforations.

Malta

Malta has a very interesting first stamp, with a non-trivial name — Halfpenny Yellow. The first sheet was published in 1860 and this stamp was in use for 25 years. 240,000 copies were made but the number of existing stamps is still unknown. This is a classic stamp with perforations. It cost half penny in 19th century and now the price for unused Halfpenny Yellow is 1,050 Euro. This stamp was reprinted 28 times and every time it was a little bit different color. Last versions of this stamp are the cheapest ones and not very rare.

Romania

The first Romanian postage stamp was printed in 1858 and is known as Moldavian Bull's Heads. This rare postage stamp was released in four denominations and all of them have the head of bull. There was printed several hundred thousands of these stamps and some of them survived through years and are available today. There are 215 first series stamps and 660 second and third series stamps. Many experts estimated all these stamps and offered sums, that differed from each other greatly. Prices start from 3,15 million Euro and go to 60 million Euro.

Uganda

Uganda is also a very famous and renown country among philatelists, first of all because first stamps were published there in 19th century. One more fact is that Uganda Cowries or Uganda Missionaries are the first stamps of this country. This stamps were printed on a very thin paper and originally they should have been in black, but the color changed and became a violet one. There is only one copy now and last time it was sold for 2 million pounds.

Russia

The first stamp of the Russian Empire was a postage stamp issued in 1857 and introduced within the territory of the Russian Empire in 1858. It was an imperforate 10-kopeck stamp depicting the coat of arms of Russia, and printed using typography in brown and blue.

The stamps were round in shape. This was because a rectangular stamp pasted carelessly on an envelope might catch with its angle on a post box or other letters and peel off. This, in turn, could lead to a return of letters to a sender and required to announce about such incident in newspapers. Each stamp type was printed in four colours: green, blue, black, and carmine.

The end…

So this is the end of the article, hope you’ve learned a lot of new and captivating facts about the history of postage stamps. The number of old, rare, unique and stamps with errors is really a great one, so it is quiet impossible to write about all of them in one article. For those people who want to find more information about old and rare stamps will perfectly suit oldstampcollecting.com. This website will give all necessary and crucial information in brief, about the names, sizes, shapes and prices of all these rare postage stamps. oldstampcollecting.com is a very good and simple site, navigation and design are very simple and convenient too. It will become a perfect starting point for many novice philatelists and for all interested people. This topic becomes more and more popular now among youth, maybe this will become your crazy hobby. Just try and who knows what will be in future.

Timeline of postage stamps

1840 1 May - Great Britain issues the Penny Black and Two Pence Blue, the world's first postage stamps.

1843 1 March - Zürich issue their first stamps: Zurich 4 and Zurich 6.

1843 1 August - Bull's Eyes, first stamps of Brazil

1843 30 September - Geneva issue their first stamps: Double Geneva.

1847 1 July The United States issues its first stamps.

1847 21 September Mauritius issues its first stamps, the Mauritius "Post Office" stamps, or the Red Penny and Blue Penny.

1849 1 January - first stamps of France

1849 1 July - first stamps of Belgium, known as the "Epaulettes" type

1849 1 November - first stamps of Bavaria

1854 - first stamps of India

1855 - first stamps of South Australia

1856 - British Guiana 1c magenta issued