What is a postage stamp?
A postage stamp is a special paper or rather a custom-made designed paper used while sending envelopes and books through mailing services. The paper usually serves as the proof of the payment for the services of the post office.
Going back to the history of the postal stamps, the invention to the postal stamps seek a number of claimants who claim it to be their brain-child but it is well documented that stamps were first used and introduced in the UK and Ireland as a part of the postal reforms propagated by Sir Rowland Hill on 1 May 1840. During the initial days too, it was the sender of the mail who had to pay the fee and not the recipient. However, it was possible to send the mail, for which the fee could be paid later. Postmarks came into the picture alongside postage stamps and was applied to the stamps to prevent re-use of the stamp again.
The first stamp was named “ Penny Black “ which became available to buy on 1 May 1840 and was valid until 6 May 1840. Stamp “ Two Pence Blue “ was introduced, two days later i.e. 8 May 1840. The Penny Black stamp was sufficient for a less than half ounce letter to be sent across UK. Both Stamps had an engraving of the Queen Victoria and did not carry the name of the country making UK the only country which didn’t use the country’s name but the reigning monarch as means of identification.
During the issue of the very first stamps in the 1840s, they all followed an almost identical design in terms of size, shape and general subject matter. All of them were in the rectangular shape and bore the images of Queens, Presidents and of other political figures. They also had the denomination of the postage-paid, and depicted the issuing country’s name with an exception of the UK. Almost all early stamps used the images of national leaders only.
With the growing advancement in the production and use of postage stamps led to the introduction of perforations bringing the use of scissors and other cutting mechanisms nearly to zero. Perforations are small holes which are made between the postage stamps on the stamp sheet, making it easy to separate the desired number of stamps.
With the passage of time the subjects on the postal stamps started to see new themes and people. In fact, the subjects found on the stamps were generally what defined a particular stamp and often served as a reason why they were saved by the collectors or history enthusiasts. Graphical representations on the stamps started to deviate from the early portraits of the queens, kings and country head to depictions of animals, birds, ships, satellites, historical events, dinosaurs, famous people, sports and much much more. However, In 1869, when the U.S. Post office first broke the tradition of using the faces of presidents and other famous figures, and instead used other subjects like train and horse, the change was rather greeted with great disapproval and harsh criticism by the American public.
Why need a stamp?
The reason why you need to use the stamp is simple – to make your parcel reach the recipient as the stamps serves as the monetary system of the mailing system. The presence of the stamp and the postmark guarantees the postmaster that you have paid the required fee for your order. Also, you need to have a postage stamp on your mail in order to understand what type of delivery is to be done on your mail and to what location. A postage stamp also signifies the function of your mail – if it is a government or a military mail, or just a normal civilian mail.
Interestingly, an expensive stamp can make your mail reach the destination in less time compared to the cheapest stamp applicable to your mail.
Where to buy stamps?
The post office serves as the most obvious and main supplier of the postage stamps. But not everybody has a post office in their vicinity. Hence, for those people there are other handy options available to redeem. We shall now discuss where else can you find stamps in your vicinity:
Pharmacy: Yes! You read that right. Isn’t it surprising to note that pharmacies are no more limited to selling medicines, cosmetics, toiletry and food to the customers? They also sell stamps. However, not every single pharmacy falls into this club but CVS, Rite aid and Walgreens are sure shot suppliers of great varieties of stamps that can surely get your mailing needs covered. It is important for the customers to be aware about such stores, in case of emergencies as not each and every local pharmacy keeps the rarest of things like stamps.
WalMart: Does Walmart sell postage stamps? WalMart is another famous destination which is practically present in every big town or city. WalMart stores are usually open round the clock and in the cities where WalMart is not present there are franchises who have tie up with WalMart and even if not, those franchises too have a great amount of scope in having those stamps in their stores. Now, in terms of WalMart specifically, you can also buy paper, pens, wrappers, gift items, envelope and every possible item you may require in sending your mail.
Grocery stores: These are the most common type of stores found in your local areas. These are the most places to find postage stamps near you as it is now a common practice for the big grocery stores to have a separate corner dedicated to the stationary and school supplies. Look out for this segment because you are most likely to find your stamps in this very section of the grocery store. It is possible for the relatively smaller stores, too to have them in their stores. Keep such stores in your memory for they will definitely come handy when the need arises.
Online sites: At times, either because you’re too lazy to move out or you’re too much busy with your lifestyle and work, you do not have enough time to spare and drive to a store just to buy postage stamps. If that is the case in your case, then rest assured, there are sources which are still there at your service and that source is the online sites. All you need to do is just visit Amazon or go to the USPS or just Google to find some other suitable options. Register with the website and search for the stamp you need, buy it online and wait for it to reach to your doorstep.
Every website has its own policies on purchasing and delivery so explores these sites and find out the best suited option for you.
Banks: This may sound weird but many banks do sell postage stamps. Banks are usually present in every part of the city and are within a quick to reach distance. So, next time when you visit your bank to make a transaction, do check if they sell stamps and if yes! What kinds of stamps are generally available. Most importantly, note down their opening and closing hours so you do not have to suffer when in need of some stamps.
Automated Postal Centres (Kiosks): While these are usually located inside post offices, you may also find them in other public places, too. Do a quick online search to find a kiosk outside a post office or at any public place. Kiosk are put together to make the stamps and other such needful products available to the customers at random places.
You can also visit usps.com and then locate “self-service kiosk” using their USPS locator.
How much to pay for postage stamps?
In the recent times the demand for postage stamps have lessened as compared to the earlier days due to the rise of the faster, more efficient and almost free electronic mailing system. As a result the prices of the postage stamps have shot up and hence have become more expensive.
The current cost trends for postage stamps are:
For Domestic Mailing: Costs an average from the range of $0.30 to $0.90. Each additional ounce may cost $0.21 extra.
For Domestic Shipping: For envelopes and packages the price may reach up to $22.
We see how these postage stamps have served us in this long run of life. Starting from the 1800s to the present times the postage stamps have been through many changes but have always remained into the picture serving us. Looking into the present times when electronic mail is in our hands through our mobile phones it feels so amusing to imagine the kind of conventional mailing system our fathers had witnessed. Indeed the stamps have come a long way and are still serving the purpose for many of our mailing needs. It’s hard to imagine how life would have been if the postage stamps were not in order and with technological advancement it has become even more convenient to find these stamps online apart from the traditional stores like grocery stores and post offices.