First Book of Stamps is Used at US Post Office

April 16, 2022

Today, stamps are a fundamental part of mailing letters. It wasn’t always that way, though. Originally, letters were taken to the local postmaster, who counted the number of pages and the distance the letter had to travel to determine the postage, which was then written in the upper right corner. If the sender paid the postage, the word “PAID” was written there as well. If the sender didn’t pay for the letter to be sent, the recipient was expected to pay on delivery.

Stamps were first developed in the 1840s. They were printed on unperforated sheets that had been covered with adhesive gum on one side. Clerks had to cut them off the sheet with scissors. This proved to be impractical, though, and soon someone developed the idea of perforating sheets of stamps, making them easier to remove.

Stamps proved to be popular. So popular, in fact, that the Post Office started experimenting with ways to make it easier for customers to buy and use them. So, on April 16, 1900, the Post Office offered its first books of stamps for sale. They came in three sizes, containing 12, 24, or 48 stamps each. Because the adhesive gum was so sticky, they had waxed paper placed between the sheets to keep them from sticking to each other. They had cardboard covers with postal rates printed on them.

6 Comments

  1. Bob Hall

    I remember in the 40s first class postage was .03 cents and a post card was a penny.

    Reply
  2. James Tow

    Am I missing something, where is the rest of the writeup>

    Reply
  3. Lucille

    I remember when I was a girl, stamps onlly cost 3 cents to mail a letter.

    Reply
  4. Black San

    how cool!

    Reply
  5. Judith Randall

    How interesting. I collected stamps as a child and have been fond of them ever since. Imagine if the postal workers today had to figure out the postage due this way? You’d get a letter delivered about two years later. At the earliest. This brief history really puts my favorite government agency into perspective.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Gary Schelvan

    Interesting story about stamps. I just heard that the price will be going up in June, from .58 to who knows what?

    Reply

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