World Post Day: Lesser known facts about postage stamps

The world might have moved on to emails, e-cards, Smses and WhatsApp messages but few things can compare to the thrill of receiving a handwritten card or package in the mail. On World Post Day, we present some interesting trivia on the most integral part of a letter: the postage stamp...

Postage stamps
Picture for representational purposes

>> Ink and hand-stamps predated adhesive stamps. These were made from wood or cork and were used to frank the mail and confirm payment of postage.

Penny Black postage stamp

>> The Penny Black (pictured above) is considered as the world's first postage stamp. It was issued in the United Kingdom on 1 May 1840 to reform and improve the postal system in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, , in the early 19th century, was in disarray and rife with corruption.

First Independent India stamp

>> Independent India's first ever stamp (pictured above) showing the tri-colour was first issued on 21 November 1947. It was meant for foreign correspondence.

>> The Scinde Dawk (pictured below), Asia's first adhesive stamp was introduced in 1852 by Sir Bartle Frere, the British East India Company's administrator of the province of Sind. The Indian Post Office's establishment preceeded this in 1837.

Scinde Dawk

>> Stamp collectors are an important source of revenue for some small countries that create limited runs of elaborate stamps. 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.

>> Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10th of a calorie.

>> Great Britain is the only country to not print it's name on the stamps issued.

A selection of rare stamps

Inverted Jenny postage stamp

The Inverted Jenny: Also known as an Upside Down Jenny, Jenny Invert, the American postage stamp was first issued on May 10, 1918. It had an image of the Curtiss JN-4 airplane in the center of the design, which appears upside down. This famous error made it a prized possession among stamp collection enthusiasts as only one pane of 100 of the invert stamps was ever found. A single Inverted Jenny was sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction in November 2007 for USd 977,500, a mint never hinged example was sold for USD 825000 and a block of four inverted Jennys was sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction in October 2005 for USD 2.7 million.

Penny red postage stamp

The Penny Red: There are only nine of these stamps left in the world. Although the stamp is in really poor condition it is considered the most expensive one that collector Stanley Gibbons has sold as it netted 550,000 pounds at a recent auction.

The Whole is Red Postage stamp

The Whole Country is Red: A favourite among stamp collectors, this stamp was commissioned by Chairman Mao Tse Tung and issued on 24 November 1968 to represent communism over the whole of China. But, due to an unexpected design error, which left Taiwan in white (see pic) the designer hurriedly recalled the stamp as he feared getting jailed for treason. The stamp featured a map of China with the words "The Whole Country is Red" in Chinese , with a worker, farmer, and soldier standing below with copies of Quotations from Chairman Mao.


British Guiana 1c magenta: Only one specimen of this postage stamp is now known to exist. Issued in limited numbers in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1856, it is the only major postage stamp ever issued that is not represented in Britain's Royal Philatelic Collection. At the time, all the colonies had to wait for stamps to arrive from the UK. The boat was delayed, and the postmaster created his own collection of stamps. It was auctioned for USD 9.5 million in New York on 17 June 2014. The stamp is in appaling collection due to not being printed on proper Royal mail stock.

About World Post Day
Observed annually on October 9, World Post day commemorates the date for the establishment of Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874 in Bern, Switzerland. It was due to the UPU that people could write to others all over the world.

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