|Starting this Monday the United States Postal Service is increasing prices for postage stamps. The first class fees will increase from 39 to 41 cents which will make the greatest impact on Americans as they send letters, post cards, and invitations. International mail rates are also going up. So do the breast cancer stamps which will now be sold for 55 cents. The good news for consumers is the introduction of so called "forever" stamps, which will be valid at any future date no matter what the current price of a stamp is. Consumers who send quite a few letters a year are expecting to be stocking up on "forever" ones.
Officially, the old 39 cent stamps will be valid on all mail accepted till this Monday, except for the letters dropped into post office boxes this Sunday, when post offices are closed.
Postage stamp material:
The majority of issued postage stamps are printed on clean, usually white (chalk-overlay) sheet. However, other materials are also used. Presently, postage stamps on the following materials are known:
* Clean sheet – in all countries;
* Back side of unprinted rubles of Riga Council - Latvia (1919-1920);
* Back side of topographic maps – Latvia (1918-1920);
* Back side of uncut banknotes, issued by the Russian Provisional Government of 1917, various labels of goods and even on ruled book paper - during Civil War;
* Papyrus - Egypt;
* Silk - Bhutan (1969; series of postage stamps & block), Mongolia (1982, six blocks), Poland (1958; block in the honor of 400th anniversary of Polish postal services);
* Dederon (capron) (chemical material) - GDR (1963; block “Chemistry for the peace and Socialism”);
* Aluminum - Hungary (1955; postage stamps in the honor of the completion of 20 years of the aluminum industry of the country, two-layer with paper), USSR (two postage stamps “Glory of the CPSU! XXII congress of CPSU”, 1961; two postage stamps “space”; postage stamp “XXVI congress of the CPSU” etc.);
* Gold with paper lining - Tonga, Sierra Leone, Dahomey, Chad, Niger, Haiti, Mali, Mauritania, etc.;
* Pure gold - Gabon (1966; postage stamps weighing 0.6 gm each of gold in the memory of Albert Schweitzer);
* Silver – Tonga (from 1963) & other;
* Wood – Switzerland (2004; series of commemorative postage stamps, made from wood);
* Embroidery - Switzerland (2000; first-ever postage stamp with an embroidery; because insignificant differences exist in the entire postage stamp circulation even at usual embroidery, has a base for search of variants;
* Small vinyl gramophone discs, on which songs were recorded –Bhutan, Qatar.
3D and “overlapping” (lenticular – with two or more imposed images) postage stamps were issued by Bhutan (since 1967), etc.
Gum and also dextrin solution were used as glue, applied on the back side of postage stamp; presently, synthetic glue compositions (PVA gum for details, see “Gumming”) are used.
The idea about a paper label as postage paid was offered at various times and the postage stamp has predecessors:
* 1653-1654 - Jean-Jacques Renouard de Villayer, organized a regular postal service in Paris according to the permission from Louis XIV; he issued strip-like receipts for postage paid (Billet de port payé) of 1 sol, with which the mails were wrapped or were inserted in the mails in such a way that they were visible to the postman. The special stamp of Renouard de Villayer and the words “port payé, le … jour de l’an 1653 (1654)” (“paid, … day, year 1653 (1654)”) were stamped on the letters. It is not known whether price was indicated on the letters or not – not a single copy could be preserved;
* 1660-1663 - Henry Bishop (1605-1691), a general postmaster had for the first time introduced a postmark about postage paid in England, and the stamp consisted of information about the amount, which is to be collected from the addressee of the letter (for example, “D/9” - 9 pennies, “S/1” - 1 shilling). A similar postmark was also used in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, India and English colonies in North America.
* 1660 - Robert Murray, a London upholsterer, for the first time organized the city’s private mail service, which was passed onto his business partner William Dockwra (1635—1716). The postal service was named “The London Penny Post”, thanks to the tariff of 1 penny for delivery of a letter weighing up to 1 pound. In 1683, Dockwra introduced a triangular postmark for prepaid, on which the following text was available: “Penny Post Paid” (“postage fee of 1 penny is paid”) and a point of dispatch (the letter in the centre of the triangle) was specified.
* 1819-1837 – The kingdom of Sardinia had postmark sheets of postage paper for pre stamp letters, Ital, were issued. The carta postala bolata (postage sheet), on which the prices 15, 25 and 50 centesimo payments were printed in blue paint (in 1820 – paint-free impression) were issued and an image of a boy on a horse, blowing a small post horn, was imprinted. Depending on the price of the sheet, the shape of the postmark was round, oval or octagonal; the sheet had various watermarks to prevent fakes.
* 1823 - Swedish lieutenant Curry Gabriel Treffenberg (1791—1875) had suggested to introduce prepaid envelopes with an imprinted stamp, made by a relief paint-free stamping or a colorful allegorical image, which would be difficult to fake. The central post office of Stockholm rejected this offer as “ridiculous”.
* 1834-1838 - James Chalmers (1782−1853), a Scottish book seller and publisher, outlined and designed the projects of signs on postage payments.
* 1835-1836 - Laurenz Koschier (1804-1879), an Austrian official, assistant to the postal accountant and a Slovene by origin, suggested prepaid postage by means of pasted postage stamps.