A Brief History of United States Postal Service Stamps

As a former athletic trainer at the high school and university levels, Nichole Thiel has worked with world-class athletes, such as John Friese of the Seattle Seahawks and Mark Schlereth of the Denver Broncos. After a successful career in collegiate athletics, Nichole Thiel recently obtained a position with the United States Postal Service (USPS), which pioneered the postage stamp system.

The US Postal Service released the first federal stamp in 1848. From the inception, stamps featured prominent people, including Benjamin Franklin, who served as the country’s first postmaster general.

Before the advent of postage stamps, recipients paid for postage on arrival. However, this resulted in countless returned letters and unpaid delivery fees. Prepaid postage stamps effectively solved this problem, though the public was slow to take up the new practice until Congress made stamps compulsory in 1855.

The USPS earns hundreds of millions of dollars each year from stamp sales. The 1993 Elvis Presley commemorative stamp alone sold more than half a billion copies.

The USPS has released special stamps honoring famous historical figures, artists, musicians, cities, natural wonders, and notable inventions. In 2019, the USPS will commemorate R&B singer Marvin Gaye and the children’s television series Sesame Street.