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Know Your Postage History . Fun Facts about Stamps

We take stamps for granted most of the time and typically only consider buying special stamps for wedding invitations or Christmas cards. But stamps have a long, interesting history. The following are some fun facts about stamps you may not have known.

The first stamp, as we think of stamps today, was the Penny Black, a British stamp featuring Queen Victoria, which was issued in 1840. The first modern stamps in the United States were issued in 1847. One recognized Benjamin Franklin, who was the first Postmaster General of the United States, while the other recognized the first president, George Washington.

The first commemorative stamp was issued in 1893. The event honored was the World Columbian Exposition, a celebration of Columbus's voyages to the Americas that was held in Chicago. These were the first .big. stamps, measuring 7/8 inches by 1-11/32 inches . almost twice the size of previous stamps.

In addition, the first woman to appear on a United States Stamp was Queen Isabella, featured on a stamp in 1893, while the first American woman to appear on a stamp was Martha Washington, who appeared on an eight cent stamp in 1902. While there had been stamps featuring Native Americans as a group, the first Native American featured on a stamp was also a woman . Pocahontas in 1907.

The first African American to be honored on a stamp was Booker T. Washington in 1940, and the first Hispanic American to be honored on a stamp was Admiral David Farragut in 1903. The most popular commemorative stamp to date has been the stamp honoring the young Elvis Presley.

In 1974, the United States Postal Service began to test self-adhesive stamps, much to the joy of every child who was ever tasked with licking stamps. Self-adhesive stamps were introduced on a nationwide basis in 1992, leading to a collective sigh from secretaries and mail order mavens alike.

Booklets of 12, 24 or 48 stamps were first issued in 1900. Once available only from the post office, these handy booklets of stamps can now be purchased at a number of retail outlets. Rolls of stamps were first issued in 1908, in response to requests from businesses.

And interestingly enough, in 1975, when a rate change was being considered, the first stamps were issued that did not have a value printed on it. These stamps were issued during the Christmas season of that year.

Recently, another classification of stamps known as semi-postals has begun making the rounds. These stamps sell for more than the amount of postage and the difference is used to support a particular cause. The first stamp, issued in 1998, was the Breast Cancer Research stamp. In 2002, a stamp was issued honoring those who were killed or injured during 9-11, with the proceeds going to their families. In 2003, a semi-postal was issued to help raise money to help stop family violence.

Finally, in 2007, a truly unique stamp was issued . the forever stamp. This stamp has a picture of the Liberty Bell and will always be worth the value of a current first class stamp . regardless of how much postage rates may increase.