The Stamps and Postal History of the United States

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 only for local use. The Postmasters’ Provisional issues appeared during 1845-46 and all 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. 

First US Stamps

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 that the unlimited mileage of the British postal tariff couldn't 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 American stamp is the famous 1867 1c blue “Z – Grill”, from 1867–1870 an embossed grill was impressed onto stamps to break the fibres. This allowed postmark ink to soak into the paper better. The grills are small rectangles, different sizes recognised by philatelists. Only 2 examples of the 3c blue are known with a “Z – Grill”, one is in private hands. 



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