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First US Postage Stamps - 1847

These are the first two US stamps, issued in 1847. The one on the left is generally called the first, but in fact they were issued at the same time. Like most early stamps, they were issued imperforate, and had to be separated with scissors, or torn; moreover, they were printed with relatively small separation between the images, making it difficult today to find a good used copy, i.e. one that does not have a part of the design cut off. Below are additional scans from auction catalogs of actual examples of some of the surviving copies.

No, it's not your monitor, those images - and the actual stamps - are dull and muddy; yet these are considered Gem examples. I don't know why production quality was so poor - is it that security engraving was still a relatively new process? That first GB stamp above, seven years earlier, looks pretty good. Was it that the U.S. was still somewhat primitive, lacked the sophistication to produce a quality product? Or that Congress was too cheap to pay for something better? Or perhaps Americans of the period regarded such frills as too elitist? Send opinions to the author at wsenkus at(@) att.net.

First US Air Mail Stamp - 1918

This is a "center-line block" of the first airmail stamp issued by the US, in May of 1918, but it is only the third Air Mail issue world-wide. The first air mail stamp was a single issued by Italy in May, 1917. The second was a set of three issued by Austria, in March, 1918. Here those are:

First Greek Air Mail Stamps - 1926

The set of stamps above are the first air mail stamps issued by Greece, in 1926. I bought them many years ago simply because I liked them, and am showing them here for the same reason.

First Day Covers

A First Day Cover (FDC) is officially-speaking any cover carrying a stamp cancelled on the day it was issued. Today one can get a "First-Day cancel" up to a month or more after the actual issue date of a stamp, so most modern FDC's are really just souvenirs, with no postal meaning. Nonetheless, FDC's are a very popular collecting area.