What are the Different Types of Stamps and Their Uses

different types of stamps use postage stamp

Are you thinking about starting a stamp collection, but aren't quite sure where to begin? 

People have been collecting stamps for decades. Stamp collecting can be a lot of fun, but, to be a great stamp collector, you first need to learn about the different types of stamps available to you. 

Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about the different types of stamps. 

Stamps vs Postage 

Before we discuss the different types of stamps, we first need to talk about the difference between stamps and postage. Many people use the words "stamps" and "postage" interchangeably. However, they're not the same thing. 

Postage is the price you pay to have your mail piece or package delivered. To show that you've paid the appropriate amount to send your mail, you need to use some type of postage, otherwise known as a stamp. 

Different Types of Stamps 

Now that you know the difference between stamps and postage, let's talk about the different types of stamps. These include: 

Definitive Stamps 

Definitive stamps are issued every year for everyday mailing. The US first began issuing definitive stamps in 1847. On March 3, 1947, Congress authorized the usage of US postal stamps. 

The first stamps went on sale in New York City on July 1, 1847. One stamp displayed a picture of Benjamin Franklin and was priced at 5 cents. Another stamp displayed a picture of George Washington and was for sale for 10 cents. George Washington has appeared on US postage stamps more times than anyone else in history. 

Many beginners choose to start their collections with definitive stamps, as there are so many to choose from. These stamps can be used for a long period of time, and as a result, some popular ones end up getting reprinted. 

The definitive stamp is nicknamed the "workhorse stamp", and in addition to displaying presidents, these stamps also display national landmarks, household items, animals, and other famous persons. 

Commemorative Stamps 

The US postal service also issues commemorative stamps, which are a hot ticket item for many stamp collectors. These stamps first debuted in 1893, and they were originally made to commemorate the World's Columbian Exposition. 

The first series of commemorative stamps displayed images of Christopher Columbus's explorations in America. Commemorative stamps are limited-edition, exclusive stamps that are meant to honor a specific person, event, or anniversary. 

While they're not as widely printed as definitive stamps, they're typically available for a few months, giving you plenty of time to find them for your collection. After a few months pass, the remaining stamps are typically destroyed. This means that if you were able to collect a commemorative stamp, you have a rare item on your hands that will likely never be recreated. 

If you want to buy a stamp that's out of print, you'll have to contact another collector to make a trade. Here are some of the most popular commemorative stamps throughout the years: 

• Elvis, 1993 
• Wonders of America, 2006 
• Marvel Super Heroes, 2007 
• Star Wars, 2007 
• Wildflowers, 1992 
• Rock and Roll, 1993 
• DC Comics Superheroes, 2006 
• Greetings from America, 2002 
• Insects and Spiders, 1999 

If you can get your hand on some of these stamps, then your collection will be off to a great start. 

Forever Stamps 

Forever stamps were first introduced in 2007. This type of stamp is the same price as a standard, first-class definitive stamp. But, it can be used indefinitely on standard envelopes that weigh one ounce or less or on first-class postage. 

If you buy one of these stamps for 48 cents, and two years later, the stamp costs 50 cents, you won't need to pay an extra two cents to mail your package. For this reason, forever stamps can also make a great investment. 

Semi-Postal Stamps 

Semi-postal stamps are sold at a premium in order to provide funding for a cause. The first stamp of this kind was released in 1997 to raise money for breast cancer research. 

The next semi-postal stamp was released in 2002 to raise money for families whose loved ones were killed in 9/11. Because these stamps are rarely released, they can make a valuable addition to your stamp collection. 

Airmail Stamps 

The US first started using airmail in 1918, and as a result, a new type of stamp was created. The first US airmail stamp was the 1918 Curtiss Jenny Stamp, and it cost 24 cents. The world's first airmail stamp was actually created in Italy in 1917. 

Parcel Post Stamps 

Parcel post stamps are now obsolete, making them the holy grail of stamps for collectors. These stamps were first released in 1912 so people could prepay for their postage. 

At the time, 12 stamps came out, each with a different denomination. However, they all had the same overall appearance and color. Because they were so similar looking, it made it difficult for postal workers and others to tell the difference between a 1 cent stamp and a $1 stamp. 

Because of this issue, they stopped issuing these stamps in 1913, making this stamp very challenging to collect. 

Custom Stamps 

Custom stamps are different than postal stamps, but they're used by many businesses. This type of stamp can be designed according to your needs and preferences. 

They can feature your business logo, address, a decorative monogram, notary seal, your signature, and more. 

Different Types of Stamps: Are You Ready to Start Your Stamp Collection? 

Now that you know about the different types of stamps, you can begin your collection. Before you know it, you'll have a huge stamp collection under your belt. 

Be sure to check back in with our blog for more tips and tricks for collectors. We publish a wide variety of helpful articles on related topics such as postage, shipping, deliveries, direct mail marketing, and various collections.

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