On August 15, 1847, postage stamps, issued in five-cent and ten-cent denominations, were used for the first time in Michigan prompting the Detroit Free Press to approvingly report that “all that has to be done is to prefix one of the little appendages and the letter goes direct.”
America’s First Stamps
Franklin and Washington
These two United States postage stamps became valid for use on July 1, 1847. 5c Franklin original model, 1847. 10c Washington original model, 1847. Benjamin Franklin was chosen due to his role as the “father” of the U. S. postal system and George Washington because he was the “father” of the nation.
When the first federal postage stamps were issued, the United States comprised 29 states along with several territories. Courtesy of Library of Congress.
The United States in 1847
The rest of the story:
In the 1840s, United States postal authorities were carefully watching the world’s reaction to Great Britain’s Penny Black, the first adhesive postage stamp. An adhesive stamp was being considered for use in the U.S. When Robert H. Morris, postmaster of New York, proposed issuing a provisional stamp, there were no objections.
Morris assumed the printing cost, and in 1845, the first U.S. postmaster’s provisional was issued. Other postmasters followed suit, providing their own distinct stamps for pre-payment of mail.
Two years later, the U.S. Post Office Department tried its own government-issued stamp. Rates were determined by the weight and distance the letter was being mailed. Letters mailed a distance of 300 miles or less were 5¢ per half ounce, while those mailed over 300 miles were 10¢ per half ounce. Postage could be paid by the sender at the time the letter was mailed, or by the addressee upon receipt.
When postage was paid by the sender, the letter was marked “paid” by pen and ink or hand stamped. If no such cancel was evident, the person receiving the letter paid the postage. Inspections for accuracy and records of postal revenues were virtually impossible. With pre-printed stamps, accurate records could be kept of how many were issued and sold. It wasn’t until 1855 that the use of postage stamps became mandatory.
A contract was awarded to a firm of bank note engravers for the printing of the 5¢ and 10¢ stamps. The stamps were to be available in major post offices on July 1, 1847. Due to delays in production, only one office, New York City, received the stamps on that date. The stamps were produced until 1851.
William H. Gross Postal Museum Stamp Gallery website
Mystic Stamp Company website
The Mystic Stamp Company will sell you a Benjamin Franklin stamp 5 cent stamp today for $450.00- $7,395.00 depending on condition and a George Washington 10 cent stamp for $1,450.00- $9,500.00