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Happy Birthday, Penny Black!

The Stamp Collecting Report, I'm Lloyd de Vries.

175 years ago, Britain issued the worldís first postage stamp. It cost one penny, and was black, so itís known as the Penny Black. The portrait is that of a very young Queen Victoria.

Until the Penny Black, postage was paid by the recipient of a letter, not the sender. It was also the first time that a flat fee was charged to mail a letter anywhere in the country, regardless of the distance. Thatís still true in Britain today, as well as the United States.

Nearly 69 million of the Penny Black were printed, so itís not that rare, and you can pick up a used copy today for a hundred dollars or so.

Because it issued the first stamps, Britain today is the only country in the world that doesnít have to put its name on its stamps; the reigning monarchís silhouette is sufficient.

The United States followed with its own postage stamps seven years later, featuring Ben Franklin and George Washington.

To mark the occasion, the British postal agency, Royal Mail, is issuing a miniature sheet of stamps that will cost almost four dollars. But you know something? With inflation, that penny from 1840 would be worth even more now.

I'm Lloyd de Vries of The Virtual Stamp Club. For more on stamps and stamp collecting, visit virtual-stamp-club-dot-com.

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