back to Famous Stamps

First U.S. Postage Stamp
1847 5¢ Franklin

US #1 First postage stamp

In 1847 the United States introduced its own postage stamps with adhesive backing. The first U.S. postage stamp featured Benjamin Franklin, who created postal routes, implemented mail wagon service, and worked to maintain an inexpensive rate of postage some 75 years before the first pre-paid stamp. The original 5¢ rate could be used to transport a standard 1/2 ounce letter up to 300 miles. Our first U.S. postage stamp was produced by the private security printer Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, Edson & Company, who suggested printing the stamp in 2 colors for security reasons; however the government decided that one color was more cost effective.

Surprisingly, the U.S. Post Office would not make pre-paid postage mandatory until 1856. However, the prepaid adhesive postage stamps were a resounding success. In 1851 more than 1.2 million postage stamps were sold and the Post Office decided to reduce the cost of mailing a letter a distance less than 500 miles to a single penny. This reduction from 5¢ to 1¢ led to an astronomical 45-fold increase in volume to 52 million letters in 1852.