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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.

  • 19 billion U.S. postage stamps were printed in 2015.
  • 12 billion postage stamps were sold in 2015 — 77 percent of them in the popular Forever format.
  • In 2015, $5.5 million in philatelic products were sold, up 1.65 percent from last year. $65 million was generated by the sales of Souvenir Sheets.
  • $618 million in stamps and stamp product orders were received by mail, telephone (1-800-STAMP-24) and online at usps.com/stamps in 2015.
  • 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 $81.8 million for breast cancer research since 1998. To date, more than 998 million stamps have been sold. The stamp is scheduled to remain on sale until December 2019.
  • 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.
  • The 2015 stamp program featured two joint issuances with other countries. The Gifts of Friendship stamps honor the lasting bond between the US and Japan, while the Ingrid Berman stamp honors an Academy Award-winning actress beloved in both the US and Sweden.
  • 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 postalmuseum.si.edu.
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