Before the use of adhesive paper postage stamps, letters had to be hand stamped or postmarked with ink. Henry Bishop invented the postmark, hence the name ‘Bishop Mark’; they were first used in 1661 at the London General Post Office to mark the day and month that the letter was mailed.
History of the stamp
The first modern postage stamp was created by Rowland Hill in 1837. It was through his efforts that the first adhesive postage stamp in the world was issued in 1840. On May 6th of the same year, the British Penny Black stamp was released. It was engraved with the profile of Queen Victoria’s head, which remained on all British stamps for the next sixty years.
The traditional postage stamp as we know it today is decorated with the profile of the Queen’s head. However, during festive periods there are a number of different designs to be found on stamps. There are also a variety of designs produced whenever there is a special event or anniversary. For example, the hosting of the 2012 Olympics in London saw multiple designs produced for postage stamps to reflect the Olympic Games.
Every Christmas and Easter, suitable designs appear to reflect the festive period. At Christmas there are robins, Christmas Puddings and Santa’s; during the Easter period there are designs of chicks, rabbits and Easter eggs.
Brighten up your day
Postage stamps are a fun way of brightening up any dull old envelope, and a sure fire way to raise a smile on the receiver’s face. In honour of the Olympic Games, Royal Mail pledged to issue a special stamp for every Team GB gold medal won during the Games. These featured Etienne Scott and Tim Baille’s victory in the men’s canoe slalom, the men’s team sprint cycling, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning’s amazing triumph for women’s rowing, and Gold medal winning cyclist Bradley Wiggins, to name but a few.
Stamps in spaace!
To celebrate Britain’s part in the exploration of space, Royal Mail issued six images associated with Space Science.
Royal Mail also produced a range of unique, collectible stamps featuring images from Roald Dahl’s story books, as a tribute to the late author. Each stamp features an original hand-drawn image by the author’s long-time friend and collaborator, Quentin Blake. They can be purchased individually or in a special frame for the perfect gift for any stamp collector to add to their collection.
Investing in a collection
Such commemorative stamps are likely to sell for a fortune in any future auction, so if you managed to get your hands on any, save them in a collector’s book; pass them on to future generations to teach them about the proud moments of British history.
To quote WB Yeats, “Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassadors on national taste.” Postage stamps represent the history and events of the country. People can look back on the various editions in years to come, and be reminded of the greatness of their nation.
So there you have it; the postage stamp is regarded as much more than simply a posting aid!
- License: Creative Commons image source
This guest post was contribute by Janice Saunders a blogger who has found herself enmeshed by the lure of stamp collecting more than once in the past and who is now keen to help you find the best possible courier service to get your package and it’s stamps to their destination.