The first United States stamps were issued in 1842, 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 and in addition only for local use. The Postmasters’ Provisional issues appeared during 1845-46 and therefore valuable collectors’ items. Famous designs including the composed George Washington featured on the circular Millbury 5c, or the St Louis 'Bears'. However they remained solely local issues.
The first stamps valid for national mailing 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 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 10c over 300 miles, per ½ ounce.
The rarest USA stamp is the famous 1867 1c blue “Z – Grill”, from 1867–1870 an embossed grill was impressed to break the fibres. This allowed postmark ink to soak into the paper better, the grills (small rectangles), and different sizes recognised by philatelists. Only 2 known examples exist of the 3c blue with a “Z – Grill”, one in private hands.