We’re celebrating National U.S. Postage Stamp Day on July 1, so get your envelopes ready. This means it’s time you write someone a letter and walk down to your nearest post office. On this day, we look back to 1847, when postage stamps were first introduced to the American public as a means to pay for their mail. We should also appreciate the ease with which we can send mail and packages these days; things have come a very long way.
History of National U.S. Postage Stamp Day
Did you know that the postal service in the United States began with the delivery of stampless letters? And the recipient had to pay for it, almost like getting a collect call from prison. Luckily, not long after, new systems and inventions started to streamline the process, and it became easier and cheaper to send mail. Private mail carriers carried things like pre-paid letters and provisional post offices, kind of like we now have special couriers that send more extensive packages. That culminated in a universal prepayment system that required all letters to bear nationally issued adhesive postage stamps to show that a letter or parcel had already been paid for, making the mailman and the recipient’s life much easier.
The United States government post office first issued adhesive postage stamps to the value of five and ten cents on July 1, 1847. And in 1855, the use of stamps was made mandatory. Initially, stamps would usually feature the face or bust of a former American president or another historically significant statesman. That all changed in the 1890s when the post office realized that selling stamps as collectibles could increase revenue. So, to make more money, it began issuing commemorative stamps in conjunction with important national expositions at first and then later for the anniversaries of significant national historical events.
Little is known about the origin or first official celebration of National U.S. Postage Stamp Day, but the day’s essence remains. It commemorates the day postage stamps were first issued in the United States and has for years honored the fact that we can now with ease send mail and parcels and pays homage to the thousands of mailmen and women in the country.
National U.S. Postage Stamp Day timeline
Adhesive postage stamps, issued by the U.S. government post office, are introduced to the market and change the way people send mail.
The use of stamps is made mandatory and features former American presidents' faces and significant politicians.
The post office introduces collectible stamps in a bid to get more profit and commemorate important national expositions and significant American historical events.
The Famous Americans Series, a set of 35 stamps commemorating the country’s most famous authors, scientists, artists, and inventors, debuts.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing ends its involvement with the postal service after producing American postage stamps for 111 years.
National U.S. Postage Stamp Day FAQs
Does the year on a postage stamp matter?
The short answer is no; they never expire, even though postage rates have risen since 2020. They are eternally valid as long as they can be validated as legitimate postage. If you use an old stained and ratty stamp and tape it to the letter, it will most likely be rejected.
How much is a US postage stamp worth today?
As of 2022, a first-class mail Forever stamp will cost 60 cents, a two-cent increase from the previous price of 58 cents, according to the US Postal Service. Other mailing services will also be more expensive, such as letters (metered 1 ounce), which will cost 57 cents, up from 53 cents.
What is the rarest George Washington stamp?
The 30-cent unwatermarked perforated ten stamp from 1916 is the rarest of any Washington-Franklin issue from a complete series: fewer than 300 copies have been certified by various expert services.
National U.S. Postage Stamp Day Activities
Start your own stamp collection
For years people have been collecting stamps and growing their own archives of unique artwork created for sending mail. Why not start your own? There are millions of different stamps worldwide that you can buy, exchange, and add to your collection. Some stamps are created for just about any field of interest, from butterflies to baseball to American first ladies. You can even buy a beautiful book in which to house these stamps so you can keep them in good condition if you want to hand them over to a loved one someday.
Write someone you love a letter
One of the most romantic things you can do is to write someone a letter, and we don’t mean typing something up on your Notes app on your iPhone. We mean getting some lined paper and writing with a pen or pencil. Think “Love Letters of Great Men” by John C. Kirkland and how, for centuries, the only way people could communicate was through written letters sent via the post. Pay homage to that, and show your significant other you genuinely love them.
Read up on the history of stamps
The history of postage stamps in the United States is so extensive that we can’t even give you the surface level. So, take some time and read up as much as you can. It’s a fascinating history. There are many iconic historical postage stamps and events that influenced particular collections. You could find a book or an online text that details the history of the postage stamp in the United States through the ages.
5 Crazy Worldwide Facts About Postage Stamps
Stamps were made by hand at first
Before we had adhesive stamps, ink and hand stamps made of wood or cork were widely accepted.
The U.K. beat the U.S.
The world's first postage stamp was issued on 1 May 1840 in the United Kingdom and was called the “Penny Black.”
Asia’s first stamp was British
Asia's first adhesive stamp, the “Scinde Dawk,” was introduced by a man named Sir Bartle Frere, who was an administrator for the British East India Company.
Stamps keep countries running
Stamp collectors help the economy in smaller countries where limited runs of intricate stamps are produced.
Stamps have calories
As crazy as it may seem, every single time you lick a stamp, you consume a tenth of a calorie.
Why We Love National U.S. Postage Stamp Day
It conserves history
A big part of any country’s history is the written word, and in the old days, written words were sent and communicated via mail. So many important things happened by letter, and through saving and collecting postage stamps, we pay homage to those letters, the people who wrote them, and the men and women who delivered them. The artistic expressions on postage stamps that depict so many iconic events and people are also part of history as it shows how design and art evolved and adapted.
It commemorates traditional mail
We have been sending emails, text messages, and voice mails for years now. As efficient and convenient as that may be, there is a certain romance and nostalgia connected to mail sent the old-fashioned mail. Some of you may remember when our grandparents would send us birthday cards via the post or having pen pals in school from other states and countries. National U.S. Postage Stamp Day allows us to reminisce and think about that rich history and tradition of sending letters and parcels through the mail.
It encourages people to write mail
Yes, some people still write letters and send them via the mail, but those unique individuals are few and far between. However, special days like National U.S. Postage Stamp Day inspire and encourage those that usually turn to their mobile phones and emails to communicate with their loved ones to pick up a pen and paper so they can write a letter. There is something to be said for a written letter, no matter the contents of that letter. It shows thought, consideration, and respect.
National U.S. Postage Stamp Day dates