When did they change from Lick to Stick; a brief history of postage stamps

12 Apr

Vintage Stamps Ladyfingers Letterpress

Fortunately, most of you have never had to sit and lick stamps for endless hours, your tongue getting all dry and crusty, your mouth filling with the taste of that revolting glue..ever wonder why that is?

Before adhesive paper stamps, letters were hand-stamped or postmarked with ink. Postmarks were invented by Henry Bishop and were first used in 1661 at the London General post office. A postmark was more typically referred to as a “Bishop Mark” named for their inventor.

Before the invention of stamps, the person on the receiving end of the postage had to pay for it as opposed to the sender. Sometimes the sender was tricky and would put a secret message on the outside of the envelope so the recipient would not have to pay for the letter and instead got the information they were meant to have just from looking at the envelope.

Sir Rowland Hill, a school teacher from England was knighted after inventing the first adhesive postage stamp in 1837.

The first modern postage stamps were called “Penny Blacks” and came into use on May 6, 1840 in Britain. The first Penny Black depicted Queen Victoria’s profile; this image remained on all British stamps for the next 60 years.

Initially stamps were not perforated and had to be cut with scissors. Luckily, that major pain ended when the perforation of stamps was introduced in 1854.

Adhesive stamps became popular for their convenience; some people grew tired of licking foul-tasting glue, and were pleased with the ease of peeling-and-sticking. Adhesive stamps are particularly handy for businesses. While some tradionalists argue that they are “not licking stamps all day” and they “don’t see the point in adhesive stamps” the handiness of adhesive stamps is undeniable (especially when mailing out loads of beautiful wedding invitations made by Ladyfingers!)

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