A first class stamp costs 44 cents today, in the year 2010, for the United States.
Denomination (postage stamp)
:This article deals with the price of a postage stamp. For other meanings of the word 'denomination' see Denomination (disambiguation).
In philately, the denomination is the "inscribed value of a stamp". For instance, if you visit the post office to buy a stamp to pay $1's worth of postage you will receive a stamp that has the value $1 printed on it in words or numbers.
The denomination is not the same as the value of a stamp on the philatelic market, which is usually different, and the denominations of a country's stamps and money do not necessarily match. For instance, there might be a 47c stamp to pay a particular postal rate but there is unlikely to be a 47c coin.
Where no denomination is shown, it may be because the stamp is deliberately non-denominated to pay the cost of a particular service, or because the stamp is not a postage stamp. It might be a cinderella stamp of some kind such as a poster stamp or charity label.
Sometimes a stamp may have its denomination changed by the post office due to local circumstances. For instance, stocks of one value may be overprinted to show a different value due to stock shortages. In cases of hyper-inflation stamps have had their denomination changed by overprinting as existing denominations became worthless. In other cases, changes to the local currency have led to changes in denomination. For instance, when the Ryukyu Islands (at the time a United States protectorate) changed its currency from Yen to Dollars, a number of airmail stamps originally printed with Yen values were overprinted and re-denominated to cents in 1959–1960.
History of United States postage rates
A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp, often issued on a significant date such as an anniversary, to honor or commemorate a place, event, person, or object. The subject of the commemorative stamp is usually spelled out in print, unlike definitive stamps which normally depict the subject along with the denomination and country name only. Many postal services issue several commemorative stamps each year, sometimes holding first day of issue ceremonies at locations connected with the subjects. Commemorative stamps can be used alongside ordinary stamps. Unlike definitive stamps that are often reprinted and sold over a prolonged period of time for general usage, commemorative stamps are usually printed in limited quantities and sold for a much shorter period of time, usually until supplies run out.
There are several candidates for the title of first commemorative. A 17-cent stamp issued in 1860 by New Brunswick, showing the Prince of Wales in anticipation of his visit is one possibility. One of the most notable examples of the Columbus commemoratives was released when The United States issued its first commemorative stamp in 1893, the $1 Columbian Exposition issue, "Isabella pledging her jewels", one of a set of 16 commemoratives issued to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492.
The United States 15-cent black stamp of 1866 depicts Abraham Lincoln, and was the first stamp issued after his assassination in 1865, but it was not officially declared as a memorial to him. The U.S. also issued a 5-cent stamp in 1882 showing the recently murdered President James A. Garfield. In addition, the United States issued stamped envelopes for the Centennial Exposition in 1876, although technically these are postal stationery and not stamps. The British Jubilee Issue of 1887 may be thought of as commemorative of the 50 years' reign of Queen Victoria, although there are no special inscriptions on the stamps, and they were intended as regular stamps. In 1871 Peru issued a 5¢ scarlet Locomotive and Arms stamp and is regarded as the first commemorative postage stamp, issued to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first railway in South America.
Though the United Kingdom often set the precedence for postage stamps and their designs, they were the late runners with the issue of their first commemorative stamp, not issuing one until 1924 when it printed and released the British Empire Exhibition issue of 1924.
Other premier commemorative stamps were issued by New South Wales in 1888 to mark its 100th anniversary; the six types all include the inscription "ONE HUNDRED YEARS". Commemoratives followed in 1891 for Hong Kong and Romania. In 1892 and 1893 a half-dozen nations of America and Spain issued commemoratives for the 400th anniversary of the West's discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
The appearance of commemorative postage stamps caused a backlash among some stamp collectors, in the early years of stamp collecting who balked at the prospect of laying out ever-larger sums to acquire the stamps of the world, so they formed the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps in 1895 to blacklist what they deemed to be excessive stamps. The organization broke up after unsuccessful attempts at getting collectors at large to comply with their wishes. Today the early commemoratives are still prized by collectors.
Taking the above data and plotting it yields the graph shown to the right. The dark plot is the nominal issued price of the stamp and the light plot is the price adjusted for inflation and is shown in 2008 US cents.
This plot shows that, despite the rise in the nominal cost of a first-class stamp, the adjusted cost of the stamp has stayed relatively stable. The large jumps in the early 1900s are because a change by a single penny was large compared to the cost of the stamp. For example, the price increase from $0.02 to $0.03 on July 6, 1932 was a 50% increase in cost. Additionally, while the cost of the stamp itself remained fixed, the adjusted price in 2008 dollars was not fixed over time which added to larger jumps in adjusted prices.
However, the recent adoption of shape-based pricing has resulted in sharp increases for small packages, far above the rate of inflation.][
Domestic Parcel Post service was adopted in 1913, 25 years after the Post Office had agreed to deliver international parcel post packages pursuant to the Universal Postal Union treaty and various bilateral agreements with other nations. Initially, there were no or few postal regulations governing packages mailed by parcel post. To construct a bank in Vernal, Utah, in 1916, a Salt Lake City Company ascertained that the cheapest way to send 40 tons of bricks to the building was by parcel post. Each brick was individually wrapped and mailed. Postal rules were promptly rewritten.
Bulk postal rates were restructured in 1996:
In 2007, First Class Mail was restructured to include variable pricing based on size, not just on weight. Shape-based postage pricing is a form of dimensional weight. Also at that time, International Parcel Post air service was rebranded as Priority Mail International, and Parcel Post surface service was discontinued for international destinations.
Regular Air Mail service began in 1918 and over the years rates varied considerably depending on distance and technology. Domestic Air Mail, as a class of service, officially ended May 1, 1977. By that time all domestic First Class Mail was being dispatched by the most expeditious means, surface or air, whether or not the Air Mail postage had been paid.
Additional charges for Special delivery existed from 1885 to 2001. Today, Express Mail Overnight is the closest service.
During the summer of 2010 the USPS requested the Postal Regulatory Commission to raise the price of a first class stamp by 2 cents, from 44 cents to 46 cents, to take effect January 2, 2011. On September 30, The PRC denied the request, but the USPS filed an appeal with the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington DC.
Unions of the U.S. Postal Service:
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination (price) on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side. Postage stamps are purchased from a postal administration or other authorized vendor and are used to pay for the costs involved in moving mail as well as other business necessities such as insurance and registration.
The stamp’s shape is usually that of a small rectangle of varying proportions, though triangles or other shapes are occasionally used. The stamp is affixed to an envelope or other postal cover (i.e., packet, box, mailing cylinder) that the customer wishes to send. The item is then processed by the postal system, where a postmark, sometimes known as a cancellation mark, is usually applied over the stamp and cover; this procedure marks the stamp as used, which prevents its reuse. The postmark indicates the date and point of origin of the mailing. The mailed item is then delivered to the address that the customer has applied to the envelope or cover.
Postage stamps have facilitated the delivery of mail since the 1840s. Before this time, ink and hand-stamps (hence the word 'stamp'), usually made from wood or cork, were often used to frank the mail and confirm the payment of postage. The first adhesive postage stamp, commonly referred to as the Penny Black, was issued in the United Kingdom in 1840. The invention of the stamp was a part of the attempt to reform and improve the postal system in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which in the early 19th century was in disarray and rife with corruption. There are varying accounts of the inventor or inventors of the stamp.
Before the introduction of postage stamps, mail in the UK was paid for by the recipient, a system that was associated with an irresolvable problem: the costs of delivering mail were not recoverable by the postal service when recipients were unable or unwilling to pay for delivered items, and senders had no incentive to restrict the number, size, or weight of items sent, whether or not they would ultimately be paid for. The postage stamp resolved this issue in a simple and elegant manner, with the additional benefit of room for an element of beauty to be introduced. Later related inventions include postal stationery such as prepaid-postage envelopes, post cards, lettercards, aerogrammes and wrappers, postage meters, and, more recently, specialty boxes and envelopes provided free to the customer by the U.S. postal service for priority or express mailing.
The postage stamp afforded convenience for both the mailer and postal officials, more efficiently recovered costs for the postal service, and ultimately resulted in a better, faster postal system. With the conveniences stamps offered, their use resulted in greatly increased mailings during the 19th and 20th centuries. Postage stamps during this era were the most popular way of paying for mail, but by the end of the 20th century were rapidly being eclipsed by the use of metered postage and bulk mailing by businesses.) The same result with respect to communications by private parties occurred over the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st due to declining cost of long distance telephone communications and the development and explosive spread of electronic mailing ("e-mail" via the Internet) and bill paying systems had.
As postage stamps with their engraved imagery began to appear on a widespread basis, historians and collectors began to take notice. The study of postage stamps and their use is referred to as philately. Stamp collecting can be both a hobby and a form of historical study and reference, as government-issued postage stamps and their mailing systems have always been involved with the history of nations.
Throughout modern history various innovations were used to apply or indicate that postage has been paid on a mailed item and as such the invention of the postage stamp has been credited to several different people.
In 1680 William Dockwra, an English merchant in London, and his partner Robert Murray established the London Penny Post, a mail system that delivered letters and small parcels inside the city of London for the sum of one penny. The postage for the mailed item was prepaid by the use of a hand-stamp to frank the mailed item, confirming payment of postage. Though this 'stamp' was applied to a letter instead of a separate piece of paper it is considered by many historians as the world's first postage stamp.
In 1835, the Slovene civil servant Lovrenc Košir from Ljubljana in Austria-Hungary (now Slovenia), suggested the use of "artificially affixed postal tax stamps" using "gepresste papieroblate" which translates as "pressed paper wafers" but although the suggestion was looked at in detail, it was not adopted.
The Englishman Sir Rowland Hill started to take an interest in postal reform in 1835. In 1836, a Member of Parliament, Robert Wallace, provided Hill with numerous books and documents, which Hill described as a "half hundred weight of material". Hill commenced a detailed study of these documents, which led him to the publication, in early 1837, of a pamphlet entitled "Post Office Reform its Importance and Practicability". He submitted a copy of this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Spring-Rice, on 4 January 1837. This first edition was marked "private and confidential" and was not released to the general public. The Chancellor summoned Hill to a meeting during which the Chancellor suggested improvements and changes to be presented in a supplement, which Hill duly produced and supplied on 28 January 1837.
Rowland Hill then received a summons to give evidence before the Commission for Post Office Enquiry on 13 February 1837. During his evidence, he read from the letter he had written to the Chancellor, which included the statement that a notation of paid postage could be created "...by using a bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp, and covered at the back with a glutinous wash...". This is the first publication of an unambiguous description of a modern adhesive postage stamp (though the term "postage stamp" did not yet exist at that time). Shortly afterward, the second edition of Hill’s booklet, dated 22 February 1837, was published, and made available to the general public. This booklet, containing some 28,000 words, incorporated the supplement he gave to the Chancellor and the statements he made to the Commission.
Hansard records that on 15 December 1837, Benjamin Hawes asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "whether it was the intention of the Government to give effect to the recommendation of the Commissioners of the Post-office, contained in their ninth report relating to the reduction of the rates of postage, and the issuing of penny stamps?"
Hill’s ideas for postage stamps and charging postage based upon weight soon took hold and were adopted in many countries throughout the world. With the new policy of charging by weight, using envelopes for mailing documents became the norm. Hill’s brother Edwin Hill invented a prototype envelope-making machine that folded paper into envelopes quickly enough to match the pace of the growing demand for postage stamps.
Rowland Hill and the postal reforms he introduced to the UK postal system are commemorated on several postage issues of the United Kingdom.
The claim that the Scotsman James Chalmers was the inventor of the postage stamp first surfaced in 1881 when the book "The Penny Postage Scheme of 1837", written by his son, Patrick Chalmers, was published. In this book, the son claims that James Chalmers first produced an essay describing and advocating a stamp in August 1834. However, no evidence for this is provided in the book. Patrick Chalmers continued to campaign until he died in 1891 to have his father recognised as the inventor of the postage stamp.
The first independent evidence for Chalmers' claim is the essay and proposal he submitted for adhesive postage stamps to the General Post Office, dated 8 February 1838 and received by the Post Office on 17 February 1838. In this approximately 800-word document about methods of franking letters he states, "Therefore, of Mr Hill’s plan of a uniform rate of postage ... I conceive that the most simple and economical mode ... would be by Slips ... in the hope that Mr Hill’s plan may soon be carried into operation I would suggest that sheets of Stamped Slips should be prepared ... then be rubbed over on the back with a strong solution of gum ...". Chalmers' original document is now in the UK's National Postal Museum.
As the postage amounts stated in James Chalmers' essay mirrored those that were proposed by Rowland Hill in February 1837, it is clear that Chalmers was aware of Hill’s proposals. It is unknown whether he had obtained a copy of Hill’s booklet or if he had simply read about it in The Times newspaper, which had, on two occasions, on 25 March 1837 and on 20 December 1837, reported in great detail Hill’s proposals. However, in neither article was there any mention of "a bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp", so merely reading the Times would not have made Chalmers aware that Hill had already made that proposal; this suggests either that he had read Hill's booklet and was merely elaborating on Hill's idea, or that he in fact independently developed the idea of the modern postage stamp.
James Chalmers organized petitions "for a low and uniform rate of postage". The first such petition was presented in the House of Commons on 4 December 1837 (from Montrose). Further petitions organised by him were presented on 1 May 1838 (from Dunbar and Cupar), 14 May 1838 (from the county of Forfar) and 12 June 1839. Many other people were concurrently organizing petitions and presenting them to Parliament. All these petitions were presented after Hill’s proposals had been published.
Other claimants include or have included
Although a number of people laid claim to the concept of the postage stamp, it is well documented that stamps were first introduced in the United Kingdom on 1 May 1840, as a part of postal reforms promoted by Sir Rowland Hill. With its introduction, the postage fee was now to be paid by the sender and not the recipient, though it was still possible to send mail without prepaying. Postmarks have been applied over stamps since the first postage stamps came into use.
The first stamp, the penny black, was put on sale on 1 May, to be valid as of 6 May 1840; two days later the two pence blue was introduced. Both show an engraving of the young Queen Victoria, with smooth, unperforated edges. At the time, there was no reason to include the United Kingdom’s name on the stamp; the UK remains the only country not to identify itself by name on postal stamps, as it simply uses the current monarch’s head as implicit identification. Following the introduction of the postage stamp in the UK, the number of letters increased dramatically as the use of the stamp rapidly accelerated. Before 1839 the number of letters sent was 76 million. By 1850 this had increased fivefold to 350 million and continued to grow rapidly thereafter, until the end of the 20th century when newer methods drastically reduced the use of delivery systems requiring stamps.
Other countries soon followed with their own stamps. The Canton of Zürich in Switzerland issued the Zurich 4 and 6 rappen on 1 March 1843. Although the Penny Black could be used to send a letter less than half an ounce anywhere within the United Kingdom, the Swiss did not initially adopt that system, instead continuing to calculate mail rates based on distance to be delivered. Brazil issued the Bull’s Eye stamp on 1 August 1843. Using the same printer as for the Penny Black, Brazil opted for an abstract design instead of a portrait of Emperor Pedro II, so that his image would be not be disfigured by a postmark. In 1845 some postmasters in the United States issued their own stamps, but it was not until 1847 that the first official U.S. stamps were created, 5 and 10 cent issues depicting Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. A few other countries issued stamps in the late 1840s. Many others, such as India, initiated their use in the 1850s, and by the 1860s most countries had stamps.
Perforations began in January 1854, and the first officially perforated stamps were issued in February 1854. However, stamps from Henry Archer's perforation trials had been issued the last few months of 1850, then during the 1851 parliamentary session of 1851, at the House of Commons, and finally in 1853/54 after the government paid Mr. Archer £4,000 for his machine and the patent.
When the first postage stamps premiered in the 1840s, they followed an almost identical standard in their shape, size and general subject matter. They were rectangular in shape. They bore the images of Queens, Presidents and other political figures. They also depicted the denomination of the postage and, with the exception of the United Kingdom, depicted the name of the country from which it was issued. Nearly all early postage stamps depicted the images of national leaders only, but before long, other subjects and designs began to appear. Sometimes the new designs were welcomed, while at other times changes were widely criticized. For example, in 1869, the U.S. Post Office broke from its tradition of depicting presidents or other famous historical figures on the face of postage and instead used other subjects, for example, a train or a horse. The change was greeted with general disapproval and sometimes harsh criticism from the American public.
Perforations are small holes made between individual postage stamps on a sheet or page of stamps, allowing for the easier separation of individual stamps. The resulting frame-like rippled edge that surrounds the separated stamp has become part of the characteristic appearance of a postage stamp.
For about the first ten years of postage stamp use (depending on the country), stamps were issued without perforations. Scissors or other cutting tools had to be used to separate individual stamps. If cutting tools were not used, individual stamps were torn off, as evidenced by the ragged edges of surviving such examples. This proved to be quite an inconvenience for postal clerks and businesses, both of which had to deal with large numbers of individual stamps on a daily basis. By 1850, various methods such as rouletting wheels were being devised in an effort to make stamp separation more efficient and to allow for large numbers of stamps to be quickly separated.
The United Kingdom was the first country to issue postage stamps with perforations, after years of struggle with the unsatisfactory cutting or tearing methods. The first machine specifically designed to perforate postage stamps was invented in London by Henry Archer, an Irish landowner and railroad man from Dublin, Ireland. The 1850 Penny Red. was the first stamp to be perforated in the course of the trials of Archer's perforating machine. After a period of trial and error and modifications of Archer's invention, new machines based on the principles pioneered by Archer were purchased and in 1854 the U.K. postal authorities started continuously issuing perforated postage stamps in the Penny Red and all subsequent designs.
The United States government and the Post Office were quick to follow the lead of the U.K. In the U.S., the use of postage stamps caught on quickly and became more widespread when on March 3, 1851, the last day of its legislative session, Congress passed the Act of March 3, 1851 (An Act to reduce and modify the Rates of Postage in the United States). Similarly introduced on the last day of the Congressional session four years later, the Act of March 3, 1855 required the prepayment of postage on all mailings. Thereafter, postage stamp use in the U.S. quickly doubled, and by 1861 had quadrupled. In 1856, under the direction of Postmaster General James Campbell, Toppan and Carpenter, (commissioned by the U.S. government to print U.S. postage stamps through the 1850s) purchased a rotary machine designed to separate stamps, patented in England in 1854 by William and Henry Bemrose, who were printers in Derby, England. The original machine cut slits into the paper rather than punching holes, but the machine was soon modified. The first stamp issue to be officially perforated, the 3-cent George Washington, was issued by the U.S. Post Office on February 24, 1857. Between 1857 and 1861 all stamps originally issued between 1851 to 1856 were reissued with perforations. Initial capacity was insufficient to perforate all stamps printed, thus perforated issues used between February and July 1857 are scarce and quite valuable.
In addition to the most common rectangular shape, stamps have been issued in geometric (circular, triangular and pentagonal) and irregular shapes. The United States issued its first circular stamp in 2000 as a hologram of the earth. Sierra Leone and Tonga have issued stamps in the shapes of fruit. Stamps that are printed on sheets are generally separated by perforations, though, more recently, with the advent of gummed stamps that do not have to be moistened prior to affixing them, designs can incorporate smooth edges (although a purely decorative perforated edge is often present).
Stamps are most commonly made from paper designed specifically for them, and are printed in sheets, rolls, or small booklets. Less commonly, postage stamps are made of materials other than paper, such as embossed foil (sometimes of gold). Switzerland made a stamp that contained a bit of lace and one of wood. The United States produced one of plastic. East Germany issued a stamp of synthetic chemicals. In the Netherlands a stamp was made of silver foil. Bhutan issued one with its national anthem on a playable record.
The subjects found on the face of postage stamps are generally what defines a particular stamp issue to the public and are often a reason why they are saved by collectors or history enthusiasts. Graphical subjects found on postage stamps have ranged from the early portrayals of kings, queens and presidents to later depictions of ships, birds and satellites, famous people, historical events, comics, dinosaurs, hobbies (knitting, stamp collecting), sports, holiday themes, and a wealth of other subjects too numerous to list.
Artists, designers, engravers and administrative officials are involved with the choice of subject matter and the method of printing stamps. Early stamp images were almost always produced from engravings — a design etched into a steel die, which was then hardened and whose impression was transferred to a printing plate. Using an engraved image was deemed a more secure way of printing stamps as it was nearly impossible to counterfeit a finely detailed image with raised lines unless you were a master engraver. In the mid-20th century, stamp issues produced by other forms of printing began to emerge, such as lithography, photogravure, intaglio and web offset printing. These later printing methods were less expensive and typically produced images of lesser quality.
Apart from these, there are also Revenue (used to collect taxes or fees on items such as documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, hunting licenses and medicines) and Telegraph stamps (for sending telegrams), which fall in a separate category from postage stamps.
Postage stamps are first issued on a specific date, often referred to as the First day of issue. A first day cover usually consists of an envelope, a postage stamp and a postmark with the date of the stamp’s first day of issue thereon. Starting in the mid-20th century some countries began assigning the first day of issue to a place associated with the subject of the stamp design, such as a specific town or city. There are two basic types of First Day Covers (FDCs) noted by collectors. The first and often most desirable type among advanced collectors is a cover sent through the mail in the course of everyday usage, without the intention of the envelope and stamp ever being retrieved and collected. The second type of FDC is often referred to as "Philatelic," that is, an envelope and stamp sent by someone with the intention of retrieving and collecting the mailed item at a later time and place. The envelope used for this type of FDC often bears a printed design or cachet of its own in correspondence with the stamp’s subject and is usually printed well in advance of the first day of issue date. The latter type of FDC is usually far more common, and is usually inexpensive and relatively easy to acquire. Covers that were sent without any secondary purpose are considered non-philatelic and often are much more challenging to find and collect.'
Postage stamps are sometimes issued in souvenir sheets or miniature sheets containing one or a small number of stamps. Souvenir sheets typically include additional artwork or information printed on the selvage, the border surrounding the stamps. Sometimes the stamps make up a greater picture. Some countries, and some issues, are produced as individual stamps as well as sheets.
Stamp collecting is a popular hobby. Collecting is not the same as philately, which is defined as the study of stamps. It is not necessary to closely study stamps in order to enjoy collecting them. Many casual collectors enjoy accumulating stamps without worrying about the details. The creation of a valuable or comprehensive collection, however, may require some philatelic knowledge.
Stamp collectors are an important source of revenue for some small countries that create limited runs of elaborate stamps designed mainly to be bought by stamp collectors. The stamps produced by these countries may far exceed their postal needs. Hundreds of countries, each producing scores of different stamps each year, resulted in 400,000 different types of stamps in existence by the year 2000. Annual world output averages about 10,000 types.
Some countries authorize the production of postage stamps that have no postal use, but are intended instead solely for collectors. Other countries issue large numbers of low denomination stamps that are bundled together in starter packs for new collectors. Official reprints are often printed by companies who have purchased or contacted for those rights and such reprints see no postal use. All of these stamps are often found "canceled to order", meaning they are postmarked without ever having passed through the postal system. Most national post offices produce stamps that would not be produced if there were no collectors, some to a far more prolific degree than others. It is up to individual collectors whether this concerns them; collecting such issues is as legitimate an endeavor as any other collection, but is unlikely to result in a collection of any value or to provide a monetary return on an investment (though it may be found worthwhile in other ways, such as teaching geography or collecting methods to a child, or sheer pleasure in the beauty of some of these issues). Others may argue that since these stamps are virtually worthless, they will be discarded in large numbers and eventually become less common and thus collectable in their own right, though this process would likely take many decades.
Sales of stamps to collectors who do not use them for mailing can result in large profits. Good examples of excessive issues have been (1) the stamps produced by Nicholas F. Seebeck and (2) stamps produced for the component states of the United Arab Emirates. Seebeck operated in the 1890s as an agent of Hamilton Bank Note Company. He approached Latin American countries with an offer to produce their entire postage stamp needs for free. In return he would have exclusive rights to market stamps to collectors. Each year a new issue would be produced, but would expire at the end of the year. This assured Seebeck of a continuing supply of remainders. In the 1960s, printers such as the Barody Stamp Company contracted to produce stamps for the separate Emirates and other countries. The sparse population of the desert states made it wholly unlikely that many of these stamps would ever be used for mailing purposes, and earned them the name of the "sand dune" countries. Another example of what might be considered by some to be excessive issues is that, at the time of the millennium, the United Kingdom issued 96 different stamps over about 24 months, all for pre-existing values with the same four rates for each set.
In the United States there is concern among some collectors that the United States Postal Service has become a promotional agent for the media and entertainment industry, as it has frequently issued entire sets of stamps featuring movie stars and cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson Over the decades the annual average number of new postage stamp issued by the U.S.P.S. has significantly increased.
A revenue stamp, tax stamp or fiscal stamp is a (usually) adhesive label used to collect taxes or fees on documents, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, drugs and medicines, playing cards, hunting licenses, firearm registration, and many other things. Typically businesses purchase the stamps from the government, and attach them to taxed items as part of putting the items on sale, or in the case of documents, as part of filling out the form.
Revenue stamps often look very similar to postage stamps, and in some countries and time periods it has been possible to use postage stamps for revenue purposes.
Revenue stamps are stamps used to collect taxes and fees. They are issued by governments, national and local, and by official bodies of various kinds. They take many forms and may be gummed and ungummed, perforated or imperforate, printed or embossed, and of any size. In many countries, they are as detailed in their design as banknotes and they are often made from the same type of paper. The high value of many revenue stamps means that they may contain security devices to prevent counterfeiting.
The Revenue Society has defined revenue stamps as " ...stamps, whether impressed, adhesive or otherwise, issued by or on behalf of International, National or Local Governments, their Licensees or Agents, and indicate that a tax, duty or fee has been paid or prepaid or that permission has been granted."
The use of revenue stamps goes back further than that of postage stamps (first used in 1840); the stamps of the Stamp Acts of the 18th century were revenues. Their use became widespread in the 19th century, partly inspired by the success of the postage stamp, and partly motivated by the desire to streamline government operations, the presence of a revenue stamp being an indication that the item in question had already paid the necessary fees. Revenue stamps have become less commonly seen in the 21st century, with the rise of computerization and the ability to use numbers to track payments accurately.
There are a great many kinds of revenue stamps in the world, and it is likely that many remain unrecorded. Both national and local entities have issued them. Governments have sometimes combined the functions of postage and revenue stamps. In the former British Empire, such stamps were often inscribed "Postage and Revenue" to reflect their dual function. Other countries have simply allowed revenue stamps to be used for postage or vice versa. A revenue stamp authorised subsequently for postal use is known as a postal fiscal. Bhutan, for instance, authorised the use of revenue stamps for postal purposes from 1955 until the first proper postage stamps of the country were issued in 1962. In the Stanley Gibbons catalogue, this type of stamp has an F prefix.
While revenue stamps often resemble postage stamps, they are not normally intended for use on mail and therefore do not receive a postal cancellation. Some countries such as Great Britain have issued stamps valid for both postage and revenue, but this practice is now rare. Many different methods have been used to cancel revenue stamps, including pen cancels, inked handstamps, perforating, embossing, hole punching or simply tearing.
From around 1900, United States revenue stamps were required to be mutilated by cutting, after being affixed to documents, and in addition to being cancelled in ink. A class of office equipment was created to achieve this which became known as "stamp mutilators".
Revenue stamps were once widely collected by philatelists and given the same status as postage stamps in stamp catalogs and at exhibitions. After World War One, however, they declined in popularity, possibly due to being excluded from catalogues as the number of postage stamps issued rose rapidly and crowded revenues out.
The lowest point in revenue philately was during the middle years of the twentieth century. A Stanley Gibbons children's stamp album from the 1950s warned in its introduction: "Since Philately is the collecting of stamps that are employed in connection with the Posts, do not put in your album fiscals, telegraph stamps, tobacco-tax labels and other such strange things as are often found in some collections." This is not a definition of philately that would be recognised today.
More recently, revenue philately has become popular again and now has its own FIP (Fédération Internationale de Philatélie) Commission and is an approved category in FIP endorsed stamp exhibitions.
Many catalogs have been issued by specialist publishers and dealers but it is true to say that revenue stamps still do not feature in some of the most popular catalogs, for instance the Stanley Gibbons and Michel catalogs, unless they are both revenue and postage stamps. However, both the standard Scott and the Scott Specialised United States catalogue feature US revenue stamps.
One of the earliest uses of revenue stamps was to pay Court Fees. Stamps were used in the Indian feudal states as early as 1797, almost 50 years before the first postal stamps.
Although India is only one of several countries that have used tax stamps on legal documents, it was one of the most prolific users. The practice is almost entirely stopped now, partly due to the prevalence of forgeries which cost the issuing government revenue.
The tax on documents, also commonly known as stamp duty, is one of the oldest uses of revenue stamps. Governments would enforce the payment of the tax by making unstamped documents unenforcable in court. The tax would apply to contracts, tenancy agreements, wills etc.
In many countries, tobacco and alcohol are taxed by the use of excise stamps. For instance, the producer may buy stamps from the government which are then affixed to each bottle of alcohol or packet of cigarettes to show that tax has been paid. Often the stamp will be fixed across a seal so that on opening the pack or bottle the stamp is destroyed.
Bahrain 1924 4a revenue stamp
Canada 1897 $1 electric light inspection stamp from the Lady of the Lightbulbs issue
Hong Kong 1867 3c duty stamp
Ireland 1939 2s passport stamp
Malta 1899 5s revenue stamp
Ottoman Empire 1918 20 pa on 1pi revenue stamp for the construction of Hejaz railway
Thrace (under Allied occupation) 1919 30st revenue stamp
United Kingdom 1920 8d national health insurance stamp overprinted SPECIMEN
United States of America 1898 ½c documentary stamp from the Battleship issue
United States of America 1930 2c documentary stamp
A newspaper stamp is a special type of postage stamp used to pay the cost of mailing newspapers and other periodicals. Although many types were issued in the 19th century, typically representing rates reduced from regular mail, they generally fell out of use in the mid-20th century, as mail services began to arrange bulk handling directly with publishers.
The exact use of newspaper stamps varied; small-value stamps were generally intended to be affixed to newspaper wrappers, in much the fashion of regular mail, but with values usually less than regular stamps. Higher values were used on bundles of newspapers, and later on receipts.
The first newspaper stamp was issued by Austria in 1851, and a number of nations soon followed suit. The newspaper stamps of the United States, in use from 1865 to 1898, were always intended for bulk shipments, and with face values ranging up to US$100, are the highest-value newspaper stamps.
Newspaper stamps seem to have been printed in great quantities, and almost all types are today inexpensive and easily acquired.
Non-denominated postage is postage intended to meet a certain postage rate that retains full validity for that intended postage rate even after the rate is increased. It does not show a monetary value, or denomination, on the face. In many English speaking countries, it is called non-value indicator (NVI) postage. Invented to reduce the cost of printing large issues of low-value stamps to "top-up" old issues,][ NVI stamps are used worldwide, including in the United States and some European countries.
The Universal Postal Union approved the use of non-denominated stamps on international mail in 1995.
Non-denominated postage was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1989 for domestic mail, in part as a workaround to the problem of fast-changing rates.
The British Post Office has issued "non-value indicated" Machins using textual inscriptions "1ST" and "2ND" to indicate class of service rather than a numeric value. It has since introduced a number of variations including those for worldwide and European use, for different weights, and for postcards.
In past years, non-denominated postage issued by the United States differed from the issues of other countries, in that the stamps retained their original monetary value. Some stamps, such as those intended for local or bulk mail rate, were issued without denomination.
This practice began in 1975, when there was uncertainty as to the timing and extent of a rate increase from ten cents for the first ounce of first class postage as the end of the year approached. Christmas stamps were released without denomination, giving the United States Postal Service flexibility to refrain from reprinting hundreds of millions of stamps in a new denomination. The rate increase, to thirteen cents (US$0.13), occurred just after Christmas.
The United States also issued stamps with letter denomination, beginning from A, B, etc., during postal rate changes. After reaching the letter "H", this practice was discarded in favor of simply indicating the class of postage (e.g., first class) for which the stamp was intended.
In 2006, the US Postal Service applied for permission to issue a stamp similar to non-denominated stamps in the UK, termed the "forever stamp", for first-class postage.
On March 26, 2007, the US Postal service unveiled the first such stamp, which went on sale April 12, 2007, for 41 cents (US$0.41), the so-called "Liberty Bell" stamp, which is marked "USA FIRST-CLASS FOREVER". On October 21, 2010, the second Forever Stamp, featuring pinecones on evergreen trees, was issued for the Christmas season. Coils of Forever stamps were first issued on December 1, 2010 in the se-tenant format with Lady Liberty and the Flag design. The latest re-design, announced June 16, 2011, features four American scientists: Melvin Calvin, chemist; Asa Gray, botanist; Maria Goeppert Mayer, physicist; and Severo Ochoa, biochemist. These stamps are always sold at the current first-class postage rate. They are always valid for the full first-class postage regardless of any rate increases since the stamps' purchase (unused "forever" stamps purchased in April 2007 therefore are valid for the full 46 cent first-class postage rate, despite having been purchased for 41 cents).
Some fundraising (or semipostal) stamps have had this feature for years. For example, the breast cancer research stamp was issued in 1998. Currently it is worth US$0.46.
Forever Stamps can be used for international mail if additional postage is attached. Alternatively, in the beginning of 2013 the USPS introduced a Global Forever stamp, for first-class one-ounce international mail.
Canada's NVI is called the "Permanent" stamp, which is a trademarked term. It was originally marked by a white capital "P" overlaid on a red maple leaf, which is itself within a white circle. Later releases, such as the 2009 Silver Dart commemorative, varied the colours. In that example, the Maple Leaf around the "P" is white and the "P" is dropped out. The circle does not appear.
In announcing its decision to adopt non-denominated postage in 2006, Canada Post noted that it had to print more than 60 million one-cent stamps following the last price increase in 2005. The Canadian and American NVI programs are essentially equivalent, as both cover regular domestic first-class mail. One Canada Post NVI stamp covers the cost of mailing a standard letter up to 30 g within Canada.
An Post issue "N" stamps at the current domestic posting rate, which allow posting to both the Republic and Northern Ireland. These are generally available in post offices, yet not commonly sold.
PostNL now issues all first-class stamps as NVIs, which simply bear a large numeral “1” that varies to match the typography used for each particular issue. Stamps meeting the first-class rate to Europe additionally bear the marking “Europa”, and those to foreign destinations outside of Europe bear the marking “Wereld” (“World”).
New Zealand Post started issuing the Kiwistamp in 2009. One stamp will always be worth the required postage of a Standard Post medium domestic letter. Customers may use multiple Kiwistamps or mix them with denominated stamps to make up the required postage for bigger domestic or international mail.
Singapore has two NVIs today: 1st Local and 2nd Local. The first Singapore NVIs were issued in 1995; almost every issue had a "For Local Addresses Only" stamp. Later, in 2004, a new NVI denomination was released: "2nd Local". Since then almost all issues have "1st Local" stamps, and some have "2nd Local" stamps, rather than the previous "For Local Addresses Only". 1st Local stamps are valid for standard letters within Singapore up to 20 g, and 2nd Local stamps are valid for standard letters within Singapore up to 40 g.
Russian Post sells envelopes and postcards with pre-printed non-denominated stamps for domestic mail, A for regular domestic mail, B for postcards, and D for registered mail.
The Åland Islands use the following NVI denominations: Lokalpost (domestic, within Åland only), Inrikes (Finland), Europa (Europe), Världen (the world), 1 klass (1st class), 2 klass (2nd class), and Julpost (Christmas mail). The current values of non-denominated Åland postage stamps, or no-value indicator (NVI) is: Lokalpost (domestic, within Åland only): €0.75, Inrikes (Finland): €0.95, Europa (Europe): €0.95, Världen (the world): €1.00, 1 klass (1st class): €0.75, 2 klass (2nd class): €0.60 and Julpost (Christmas mail): €0.55.
Finland's first NVI stamp (ikimerkki) was issued on 2.3.1992. There are two denominations, one valid for domestic 1st class, or overnight, domestic letter of up to 50 g and the other for similar 2nd class letter. The stamps may be combined for more expensive tariffs.
Sweden currently issues three forms of NVI valid for letters within Sweden of up to 20 g. These stamps may be combined when the weight of a letter exceeds 20 g. For up to 100 g – use two stamps; for up to 250 g – use 4 stamps; 500 g – 6 stamps; 1 kg – 8 stamps; 2 kg – 12 stamps. These charges only apply to regular letters – surcharges apply to bulkier letters. The Swedish name for NVI stamps is "valörlösa frimärken".
Regular first class stamps can also be used to mail letters abroad, providing that their combined value corresponds to the appropriate tariff by Swedish Post. For instance, to mail a letter up to 20 g in weight, two Brev stamps are required.
The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US), America, or simply the States, is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, 16 territories, a federal district, and various overseas extraterritorial jurisdictions. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 316 million people, the United States is the fourth-largest country by total area and third largest by population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the US mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonization beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The ensuing war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
Stamp collecting is the collecting of postage stamps and related objects. It is one of the world's most popular hobbies.
Stamp collecting is generally accepted as one of the areas that make up the wider subject of philately, which is the study of stamps. A philatelist may, but does not have to, collect stamps. It is not uncommon for the term philatelist, correctly or incorrectly, to be used to mean a stamp collector. Many casual stamp collectors accumulate stamps for sheer enjoyment and relaxation without worrying about the tiny details. The creation of a large or comprehensive collection, however, generally requires some philatelic knowledge and will usually contain areas of philatelic studies.
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are printed on special custom-made paper, show a national designation and a denomination (value) on the front, and have a gum adhesive on the back. Postage stamps are purchased from a postal administration or other authorized vendor, and are used to pay for the costs involved in moving mail, as well as other business necessities such as insurance and registration. They are sometimes a source of net profit to the issuing agency, especially when sold to collectors who will not actually use them for postage.
Stamps are usually rectangular, but triangles or other shapes are occasionally used. The stamp is affixed to an envelope or other postal cover (e.g., packet, box, mailing cylinder) the customer wishes to send. The item is then processed by the postal system, where a postmark, sometimes known as a cancellation mark, is usually applied in overlapping manner to stamp and cover. This procedure marks the stamp as used to prevent its reuse. In modern usage, postmarks generally indicate the date and point of origin of the mailing. The mailed item is then delivered to the address the customer has applied to the envelope or parcel.
In philately, a cinderella stamp is "virtually anything resembling a postage stamp, but not issued for postal purposes by a government postal administration..." The term also excludes imprinted stamps on postal stationery.
As cinderella stamps are defined by what they are not, there are many different types and the term is usually construed fairly loosely. Items normally regarded as falling within the area are poster stamps, propaganda labels, commemorative stickers, stamps issued by non-recognised countries or governments, charity labels like Christmas seals and Easter seals, most telegraph stamps, some railway stamps, some local stamps and purely decorative items created for advertising or amusement. Revenue stamps are sometime considered cinderellas, but as they are normally issued by an official government agency, they tend to be classed separately from other cinderella stamps. Some telegraph, railway and other stamps may also be issued by government agencies but still fall under the cinderella umbrella as not being for postal purposes.
Postage stamps and postal history of the United States
Non-denominated postage is postage intended to meet a certain postage rate that retains full validity for that intended postage rate even after the rate is increased. It does not show a monetary value, or denomination, on the face. In many English speaking countries, it is called non-value indicator (NVI) postage. Invented to reduce the cost of printing large issues of low-value stamps to "top-up" old issues,]citation needed[ NVI stamps are used worldwide, including in the United States and some European countries.
The Universal Postal Union approved the use of non-denominated stamps on international mail in 1995.
The history of postal service of the United States evolved from stampless letters, whose cost was borne by the receiving person, to letters carried by private mail carriers and provisional post offices, and then on to letters bearing adhesive postage stamps. Ship captains arriving in port with stampless mail would advertise in the local newspaper names of those having mail and for them to come collect and pay for it, if not already paid for by the sender.
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.
The mail or post is a system for physically transporting documents and other small packages, as well as a name for the postcards, letters, and parcels themselves. A postal service can be private or public, though many governments place restrictions on private systems. Since the mid-19th century national postal systems have generally been established as government monopolies with a fee on the article prepaid. Proof of payment is often in the form of adhesive postage stamps, but postage meters are also used for bulk mailing. Modern private postal systems are typically distinguished from national postal agencies by the names "courier" or "delivery service".
Postal authorities often have functions other than transporting letters. In some countries, a Postal Telegraph and Telephone (PTT) service oversees the postal system as well as having authority over telephone and telegraph systems. Some countries' postal systems allow for savings accounts and handle applications for passports.