50 Really Fascinating Facts about Stamps

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1The Elvis Stamp

The Elvis Stamp

In 1993, when US postal service issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring Elvis Presley's 58th birthday, fans mailed envelopes with first-day issues of the stamp to fictitious addresses so that they would receive their letters back, marked with the words "return to sender."

2. The USPS mistook a Las Vegas replica of Statue of Liberty for the real one in New York when creating the Lady Liberty "forever" stamp in 2010, resulting in $3.5 million payouts to the replica's sculptor for violating his copyright.

3. In 2013, the new image of "Marianne" (who symbolizes the French Republic, and is typically depicted with bare breasts) on French stamps was inspired by Ukrainian topless activist Inna Shevchenko. After the stamp was released, a right-wing Christian group called for a boycott of the stamp.

4. The rarest stamp in the world is the 1856 British Guiana 1c magenta stamp, of which only one specimen exists. It has broken the world record stamp price on each of the last four times it has been sold. It was sold for 6 shillings, £120, £150, $36,000, $40,000, $280,000, $935,000, and most recently for $9,480,000.

5. In 2013, Belgium printed half a million postage stamps that smelled and tasted like chocolate as a celebration of the country's chocolatiers.

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6Underwater Stamp

Underwater Stamp

The country of Vanuatu has an underwater post office. It is located 50 meters offshore and is 3 meters below the surface. The post office even has a special cancellation stamp that can be used underwater.

7. The US post office sells a $25 stamp that's required for duck hunting. The proceeds earned from it go toward supporting wildlife habitat conservation.

8. After the cancellation of the 1944 Olympics, Polish prisoners of war being held in the Nazi Oflag II-C POW camp staged their own unofficial Olympics games. They made their flag from a bed sheet, an opening ceremony was held and even a commemorative stamp was printed by the camp post office.

9. The post office in Bedrock, Colorado receives so much fan mail addressed to characters from 'The Flintstones' that they have a special stamp for rejecting the mail that says 'Return to Sender - Fictitious Cartoon Character.'

10. Around 1972, Bhutan released phonographic stamps which look like little vinyl records and they can be played.

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11Apollo 15 Postage Stamp

Apollo 15 Postage Stamp

The crew of the Apollo 15 moon mission took 398 unauthorized postage stamp covers to the moon with them, intending to sell 100 of them to a German stamp dealer who provided them. When discovered, NASA re-assigned all the astronauts involved to non-flight roles.

12. It's estimated that 10% of San Marino's revenue is generated by the sale of its postage stamps to international collectors. The government of San Marino has the world's only philatelic minister of state.

13. The Panama Canal was supposed to be built in Nicaragua, but a 1¢ mail stamp of an erupting volcano mislead the congressmen into thinking that Nicaragua was too dangerous of a place to building a canal, so they chose to build the canal in Panama instead.

14. There is a special name, "Errors, Freaks, and Oddities," or EFO, for postage stamps that have had some mistake in their creation, and it can increase their value. Some of them are the most expensive stamps in the world.

15. British stamps are the only stamps in the world not to contain the country name as standard. This is because, when the stamp was invented, it was only ever used in the UK.

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16Anti Alcoholism Stamp

Anti Alcoholism Stamp

In 1981, the US Post Office issued an anti-alcoholism stamp that said "Alcoholism: You can beat it!" Though well-intentioned, it was a huge flop mainly because it could look like the sender was sending a specific message to the recipient.

17. U.S. stamps may not visibly depict any person who has been dead for less than 10 years, except for ex-Presidents who may appear one year after their demise.

18. The Dag Hammarskjöld Invert 4-cent stamp was intentionally reprinted to prevent the stamp from gaining value from a USPS error.

19. In 1954, Warren Buffett tried to corner the market on Blue Eagle stamps. He bought almost 400,000 of them, expecting 2,500% gains from desperate collectors. The demand never materialized and he ended up selling his stamp stash at a loss in 1982. He never bought collectibles again after that.

20. To prevent people from reusing canceled postage stamps by washing off the ink, early stamps were embossed with 'grill' indentations so that the ink would be more readily absorbed by the paper.

21British Royal Postage Stamp

British Royal Postage Stamp

Until 2005 the only living people to appear on British stamps were the Queen and the drummer of the Queen.

22. Stamps are considered a financial liability until they are used, so buying stamps does not provide the United States Post Office with more revenue. Only after the stamps are used can they be credited for revenue.

23. Stamps mimicking postage stamps but printed for promotional use by businesses, churches, and political or non-profit groups are called Cinderella stamps as even though they are attractive, they are still seen as inferior by philatelists, much similar to Cinderella.

24. In 1930, Spain printed a series of postage stamps featuring Goya's "Naked Maja" painting. The United States refused all mail sent with this stamp.

25. Since 1864, the British Royal Family has maintained one of the world's largest postage stamp collections. George V set the record for a single stamp’s price when he paid £1,450 for a “Mauritius Two Pence Blue” in 1904.

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