The history of stamps is an intriguing study of basic society organization. Postal organizations and networks are essential for long-distance communication. Providing this network of communications is an act of governance, and stamps are an important part of this process. Before the invention of stamps, mail was delivered free of charge, but the addressee usually paid postage only when they claimed the letter.
Rowland Hill was the first person to create a postage stamp, and he wanted to make it easy for everyone to send and receive mail. Hill believed that everyone should be able to send letters, and that the sender should pay the price instead of the recipient. On May 6, 1840, the first postage stamp went on sale and was sold for one penny. The idea caught on and governments around the world were keen to try it.
In the 1800s, the first stamp collectors’ club was formed. The organization called itself the Omnibusclub, and included bug collectors as well as stamp collectors. Later, the Stamp Association was founded, and the Suddeutsche Philatelistenverein was founded in Germany. It is estimated that 150,000 people in the United States collect stamps seriously, and at least six million people practice philately on a casual basis. Many people collect stamps to commemorate worthy people, historic events, and noble causes. In the early days, stamps also served as an important source of revenue for many small nations.
The first postage stamp was issued in Great Britain in 1840. It was a picture of Queen Victoria, and cost a penny. The original stamps did not have perforations, so people had to cut them out using scissors. After a few years, postage stamps were widespread, and by the 1860s, 70 countries had used them.