July 1st marks the anniversary of the first United States postage stamp being issued back in 1847.
The first general issue postage stamps went on sale 170 years ago in New York City. Prior to this letters were taken to a Post Office where the postmaster would individually inspect each one. The postmaster would consider the number of pages in the letter and the distance it would travel before issuing a rate, which would then be noted in the top right corner. Postage could be paid in advance, by the recipient once delivered or partially by both parties.
The first two stamps featured Ben Franklin, the first Postmaster General, and George Washington. Franklin’s stamp was priced at five cents while Washington’s stamp was valued at ten cents.
Even though the first stamps were issued in 1847 other payment methods were still used until 1856 when the use of government issued stamps became standard.