History Behind The British Stamp

Penny Black and Beyond

We use and see British Stamps every day as a country so where did they come from?

History of British stamps

Great Britain issued the world’s first adhesive postage stamp on 6 May 1840. The Penny Black; the foundations for British stamps, a design showing Queen Victoria, without the country name.

From then on, British stamps were issued with the reigning sovereign – often in profile or semi-profile.

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was by photographer Dorothy Wilding.  However, in 1967 a portrait by Arnold Machin was adopted, the resulting design, still used today, is regarded a classic for its simplicity. Stamps for special events were introduced in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley. Additionally, released before 1961, there were only 12 commemorative stamps. Issued yearly, are 12 sets of Special Stamps.

Additionally, released before 1961, there were only 12 commemorative stamps. Nowadays, there are usually around 12 sets of Special Stamps issues yearly.
With this came other items, such as Royal Mail’s First Day Covers and Presentation Packs. Small sheets combining one or more stamps from a set, known as Miniature Sheets, first appeared in 1978. Now, these are a big part of the Special Stamp Programme.

Issued in 1993 in the UK, was the first self-adhesive stamp. Britain’s first ever customised stamps service, called Smilers® followed in 2000. A year later, the first self-adhesive Special Stamp issue – Cats and Dogs followed. However, it was 2003 when stamps went ‘DIY’ with the amazing Fun Fruit and Veg stamps, complete with stick-on moustaches, hats, boots and more. Recently, we have seen two new ‘large’ size definitive stamps, introduced in August 2006 as part of Royal Mails new pricing structure which incorporates size as well as weight.
With this said, the British Stamp has come far since 1840, what do you think the future holds for the stamp?
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