Collection Studio 3.65
[ release date: March 22, 2012 ]
History of stamps
The adhesive postage stamp and the uniform postage rate were devised in Great Britain by James Chalmers around 1834. The same ideas were published by Rowland Hill, in Postal Reform: its Importance and Practibility in 1837. In it he argued that it would be better for the sender to pay the cost of delivery, rather than the addressee who could refuse the letter if they could not or did not want to pay, as sometimes happened at the time. He also argued for a uniform rate of one penny per letter, no matter where its destination. Accounting costs for the government would thus be cut; postage would no longer be charged according to how far a letter had travelled, which required each letter to have an individual entry in the Royal Mail's accounts. Chalmers' ideas were finally adopted by Parliament in August, 1839 and the General Post Office launched the Penny Post service the next year in 1840 with two prepaid-postage pictorial envelopes or wrappers: one valued at a penny and one valued at twopence.
Three months later the first prepaid-postage stamp, known as the Penny Black was issued with the profile of Queen Victoria printed on it. Because the United Kingdom issued the first stamps, the Universal Postal Union (U.P.U.) grants it an exemption from its rule that the identification of the issuing country must appear on a stamp in roman script for use in international mails. Before joining the U.P.U. many countries did not do this (e. g. the "bullseye" stamps of Brazil); there are very few violations of the rule since this time, though one example is the U.S. Pilgrim Tercentenary series, on which the country designation was inadvertently excluded. Because of this the numerous early issues of China and Japan often confound new collectors unfamiliar with oriental scripts. A stamp must also show a face value in the issuing country's currency. Some countries have issued stamps with a letter of the alphabet or designation such as "First class" for a face value. Because of the U.P.U. rules their use is restricted to domestic mail, but breach of this rule is often tolerated. (Exceptions to this are the British "E" stamp (intended to pay the rate for mailing letters to Europe) and the South African "International Letter Rate" stamp.)