The first postage stamps of America were issued in 1842, just 2 years after Great Britain’s Penny Black, however the City Despatch Post and U.S. 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 including many famous designs such as 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 of America were issued on 1 July 1847. Two elegant imperforate stamps, a 5c brown with a portrait of Benjamin Franklin & 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, so 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 USA is the famous 1867 1c blue “Z – Grill”. From 1867 to 1870 an embossed grill was impressed onto stamps to break the fibres, allowing postmark ink to better soak into the paper. The grills are usually small rectangles and the different sizes are recognised by philatelists and only 2 examples of the 3c blue are known with a “Z – Grill”, only one being in private hands.
The postage stamps, booklets and booklet panes, die & plate proofs, local stamps, newspaper stamps, parcel stamps, postal stationery & postal history, revenue stamps plus so much else make US philately one of the most rewarding areas in the world of stamp collecting. For the stamp listings we can recommend the excellent Stanley Gibbons Part 22 USA catalogue, for the stamps and wider issues such as revenues & proofs the Scott “Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers”.