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Postage stamps

Postage stamps are miniature works of art designed to reflect the American experience and highlight heroes, history, milestones, achievements and natural wonders.

  • The Postal Service printed 19 billion U.S. postage stamps in 2016.
  • $434 million in stamps and stamp product orders were received by mail, telephone (1-800-STAMP-24) and online at in 2016.
  • The first Forever stamp, issued in 2007, was an image of the Liberty Bell.
  • Forever stamps can be purchased at the current First-Class Mail postage price — they remain valid for full postage no matter how prices change.
  • Semi-postal stamps are First-Class Mail stamps sold by the Postal Service at a price above the cost of a regular stamp. These stamps raise money for causes designated by Congress.
  • Four semi-postal stamps have been issued to date: Breast Cancer Research (issued 1998), Heroes of 2001 (issued 2002), Stop Family Violence (issued 2003) and Save Vanishing Species (issued 2011). Breast Cancer Research and Save Vanishing Species are still available for purchase.
  • The Breast Cancer Research semi-postal stamp has raised more than $83.7 million for breast cancer research since 1998. To date, more than 1 billion stamps have been sold. The stamp is scheduled to remain on sale until December 2019.
  • The Save Vanishing Species semi-postal stamp has raised more than $3.6 million to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds since 2011.  To date, more than 35 million stamps have been sold. 
  • In 1992, the self-stick stamp began to replace the traditional version. By 2005, 98 percent of all stamps were self-stick, though some collectors still prefer the traditional wet-then-stick style.
  • The first woman featured on a U.S. postage stamp was Queen Isabella in 1893. The first American woman featured was Martha Washington in 1902.
  • The first Hispanic-American featured on a U.S. postage stamp was Admiral David Farragut in 1903.
  • The first Native American to be featured on a stamp was Pocahontas in 1907.
  • The first African American to be featured on a U.S. postage stamp was Booker T. Washington in 1940.
  • Postal History was made in 2015 with the first non-denominational stamps issued at rates other than the First-Class Forever rate. Like Forever stamps, they will always be valid.
  • The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of postal history and philately. The Museum, located in Washington, DC, was created by an agreement between the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Postal Service in 1990 and opened to the public in 1993.
  • In 2013, the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery — the world’s largest gallery dedicated to philately — opened its doors. The gallery provides an experience available nowhere else and offers something for everyone, from casual visitors to experienced collectors. For more information, go to
  • In 2016, Guinness World Records presented the Postal Service with a record holder certificate: “The farthest distanced travelled by a postage stamp is 5,250,843,896 km (3, 262,723,132 ml).” A postage stamp was inside the New Horizons Spacecraft which was launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, on January 19, 2006 and arrived on Pluto on July 14, 2015.
  • In June 2016, at the World Stamp Show, the Classics Forever stamp featured the first water-soluble pressure-sensitive adhesive — enabling philatelists to remove the stamps from envelopes after they have been used by simply soaking them in plain water.
  • In May 2016, the first Postal Service Stamp app was introduced — the only official U.S. stamp collecting app — which includes a reference library along with user-generated content for philatelists to upload and manage stamp their collections.
  • In May 2016, for the first time, the 42nd edition of the Guide to U.S. Stamps was offered in a digital format.
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