In the last month, the cash-strapped United States Postal Service has trimmed back its cost-cutting plan to shutter thousands of rural post offices, instead opting to chop hours of operation. This year, the USPS forsees mail volume dropping 9.9 billion — with a B — pieces. In the last decade, the cost of mailing a letter has risen 8 cents a stamp, while its cited competitor, email, remains free.
In the 170 years since the first adhesive postage stamp, the postal service in the U.S. has had its ups and downs. While the USPS battles to remain relevant as more people turn to email and online bill payment, its stamps remain as lasting little thumbnails of, and a way that collectors connect with, the country's origins and history.
The introduction of the U.S. postal stamp actually began in England in May of 1840. A U.S. Senator, Daniel Webster, recommended that the English postage stamps be used in America as well. The idea was well received and the first adhesive postage stamp ever produced in the western hemisphere was born on February 1, 1842 in New York City by a carrier service called “City Despatch Post.” The first U.S. stamp issue, featuring Benjamin Franklin, worth 5 cents, and George Washington, worth 10 cents, however, didn't become available for sale until July 1, 1847 in New York City.
Since the 1840s, the United States has become well known for its variety of different stamps throughout the years, especially limited collectors editions featured for national holidays and to commemorate influential American leaders.
There are a few stamp sets that are considered to be the most popular of all stamps in American history. The first series of these stamps was the Liberty Issue stamp set in 1854. The Presidential stamp set from 1954 to 1965 came next. From then on it was the Prominent Americans stamp series from 1965 to 1981, the Great Americans stamp set from 1980 to 1994 and finally the American Celebrities stamp series in 2000.