What is a Postage Stamp
Postage Stamp is a small and rectangular shaped piece of paper used on the letter or envelopes that acts as a proof of payment of postage. These are made from custom-made paper and generally display the denomination value, sign or images of national importance, great personalities on the front side and adhesive gum on the back side. A postage stamp is a method of payment of postage and is also used in other business related activities like insurance and registration. Postage stamps can be purchased from Postal administration or post offices and many other sources like supermarkets, kiosks, online etc.
Postage stamps are generally affixed by the sender on the front side of the envelope or other mailing item like boxes, packets. The mailing item is then forwarded by the postal administration, where there put a post mark on the stamp in order to avoid it being reused. These postmarks contains date and time of the origin of the mail and also represents that it has been used and now it will not be of further usage. After postmark, the mailing item or postage are delivered to the mentioned address. Without the stamps, postal administration will not process the mailing item and thus its termed as cancelled.
Postage stamps are sometimes printed to honour great personalities like Martin Luthar King, Vatican pope, social reformer, historical events, heritage buildings like Eiffel Tower and even special occasions like Christmas and other festivals. Commemorative stamps for events or persons are also issued for a limited period of time by different countries.
History of Postage Stamps:
Postage stamps are a common term these days but its history goes back a long way to 1840. It was first introduced and promoted by Sir Rowland Hill as a part of postal reforms in UK and Ireland on 1 May, 1840. During that era, the postal rates were very high and complex. In order to simply the postal services and stamp related activities, Sir Rowland Hill proposed the idea of an adhesive stamp. The “Penny Black” was the world’s first ever stamp to be published and made available for purchase. With its launch the system of pre-payment of mail was also started. Earlier the receiver has to pay the postal charges but with the first adhesive stamp, the service was made pre-paid. On 8 May, 1840 another stamp “Two Pence Blue” was launched.
Both the stamps displayed the image of the young Queen Victoria as the identification mark of the country. Following the introduction of the stamp, no. of prepaid postages increased five-fold to 350 million from 76 million in 1839. After the successful implementation of prepaid stamps in UK, other countries followed and issued their own stamps. U.S. issued its own stamps with images of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington in 1847, India started stamps in 1850s and mostly all the countries issued their own stamps by 1860s.
With the first stamps, all the other stamps used to have the images of Monarch, Presidents and other influential personalities. But in 1869, U.S. Post office started using other images like train; horse etc. in order to break the tradition of depicting the personalities and historical figures but the changes in stamps received criticism from the public of America. Slowly the changes seem to appeal the public and they started accepting it. Just like images, U.S. also issued stamps in different shapes other than rectangular shape. In 2000, U.S. introduced a circular stamp. Later countries like Tonga and Sierra Leone issued stamps in the shapes of fruits.
Stamps are made from specially designed paper and are printed in rolls and booklets. It was always embossed but sometimes stamps were also embossed on gold (for highly influential people as a souvenir). Switzerland made a stamp with a special mixture of wood and lace, America made it from plastic, Netherlands made it from silver foil, East Germany made it from synthetic chemicals and many other methods were used different countries. Many other changes were kept on introducing in postage stamps by different countries at a regular interval of time.
Conclusion: Postage Stamps have been through lots of changes from its inception in 1840 to this date. These stamps have been very useful in the postal administration in all over the world. Each county has its own unique version of postage stamps. With the introduction and high usage of technology, the use of postage has reduced especially in personal mails. But still these are used in delivering boxes, parcels and packets. Postage stamps had a great historical value and still have remarkable importance in the postal administration system.