The Penny Black - The world's first prepaid adhesive postage stamp
The Penny Black was the world's first prepaid adhesive postage stamp. It was issued on Wednesday 6th May 1840 and the Twopenny Blue was issued on Friday 8th May 1840 early in the reign of Queen Victoria (b1819), who reigned from 1837-1901, her portrait was used on the stamp as it would be more recognisable by the public. The portrait on the penny black is based on the Wyon city medal of 1837 which William Wyon modelled in 1834 when Princess Victoria was only 15. As this was the first postage stamp, the country name is omitted, a tradition continued with all the stamps of Great Britain, the identifying characteristic is the monarch's head which always faces to the left on definitive stamps. The postal rate of one penny meant that a letter not exceeding half an ounce in weight could be sent to any part of the United Kingdom. The purpose of the stamp was to indicate that the postage had been prepaid. Before the invention of the stamp the receiver paid the postage rather than the sender.
Stamp collecting equipment
No equipment is needed in order to be able to collect stamps. However, the great majority of collectors choose to invest in a few essential items for the better display, preservation and inspection of their stamps. Below are some of the more commonly used pieces of stamp collecting equipment.
The easiest and cheapest method to store stamps is placing them in glassine envelopes and storing them in a box free from humidity, light, and heat. This obviously will be of no help when trying to go through the stamps for display or other purpose. Placing stamps in stamp albums helps in easy display of the stamp collection. Stamps can be displayed as per the wish of the collector, by country, topic, or even size, such that the ultimate display is pleasing to the eyes.
Archival stockbook with clear plastic pockets for the stamps: one of the safest means of stamp storage
Clockwise: hinge-mounted stamp, stamp about to be hinge-mounted, stamp damaged by a hinge, stamp hinges
Stamp tongs with rounded tips, to prevent damage from skin oils and rough handling
The tools and items of collecting all fit neatly on a desk blotter.
The starting point for many new collectors is to ask family and friends to save stamps from their incoming mail. Although the stamps received by major businesses, and those kept by elderly relatives, may be of international and historical interest, the stamps received from family members are often of the definitive sort. Definitives seem mundane but, considering their variety of colours, watermarks, paper differences, perforations and printing errors, they can fill many pages in a collection. Introducing either variety or specific focus to a collection can require the purchasing of stamps, either from a dealer or online. Large numbers of relatively recent stamps, often still attached to fragments or envelopes, may be obtained cheaply and easily. Rare and old stamps can also be easily obtained from similar sources, with costs extending far beyond the means of all but a tiny minority of collectors.
Duplicate stamps are the stamps that a collector already has, and are therefore not required to fill a gap in a collection. Duplicate stamps can be sold or traded, so they are an important medium of exchange among collectors.