The first United States stamps were issued in 1842. This was just 2 years after Great Britain’s Penny Black. However, the City Despatch Post and US City Despatch Post carrier stamps for use within New York City were for local use only. The Postmasters’ Provisional Issues appeared during 1845-46 and are all valuable collectors’ items. These include many famous designs. For example, the composed George Washington featured on the famous circular Millbury 5c, or the St Louis 'Bears' but they remained solely local issues.
The first stamps valid for national mailing throughout the United States were issued on 1st July 1847. These include two elegant imperforate stamps, a 5c brown with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin. Also a 10c black depicting George Washington. The vastness of territory to be covered and the basic nature of the rural postal system meant that the unlimited mileage of the British postal tariff could not be copied. As a result, the 5c rate was for distances up to 300 miles and the 10c for distances over 300 miles, per ½ ounce.
The rarest stamp of the US is the famous 1867 1c blue “Z – Grill”. From 1867 to 1870 an embossed grill was impressed onto stamps to break the fibres. This allowed postmark ink to better soak into the paper. The grills are small rectangles. The different sizes are recognised by philatelists. Only 2 examples of the 3c blue are known with a “Z – Grill”, and only one is in private hands.
The postage stamps, booklets and booklet panes, die and plate proofs, local stamps, newspaper stamps, parcel stamps, postal stationery, also postal history, revenue stamps plus so much more, make American philately one of the most rewarding areas in the world of stamp collecting.