Getting a piece of mail delivered with a postage stamp on it wasn’t always the case. The modern day postage stamp was born on May 6, 1840 in Great Britain. It was a one penny stamp and was printed in black ink only which lead to its name, the “Penny Black”.
Prior to the Penny Black stamp being printed, the postal services of the world did not charge the sender. The recipient paid the postage when the letter or package was delivered. This was extremely unprofitable for the postal services since the recipient could refuse the mail and pay nothing. Before long, many people had developed a system of secret codes to beat the postal system out of the postage due. They would put secret markings on the outside of the mail. These markings conveyed their message without the recipient having to open or accept the mail.
The first stamps were printed on sheets without any perforation. The user would need to cut one of the stamps off the sheet and affix it to the envelope. Because of the revenue that the pre-paid stamp was generating, it did not take long for this concept to be adopted by postal services around the world. The United States Post Office Department printed its first stamps in 1847. These were a five cent Benjamin Franklin stamp and a ten cent George Washington stamp.
Since 1840, stamps have evolved into different shapes, sizes and colors, but they all can trace their roots back to the “Penny Black” created on May 6, 1840.
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