People have been writing letters – “sometimes beautiful, more often useless,” according to poet Konstantin Simonov – for ages.
For almost as many years they faced a problem: who will pay for correspondence. And the problem was solved by Rowland Hill, a rural schoolteacher from England who proposed nothing more but a piece of paper coated with an adhesive substance on the back side. On May 1 1840, the “Black Penny” and the “Blue Twopence” were released for sale, and on May 6 they officially took their place in the corner of the envelope. Stamps have been issued by the United States since 1845 and by Mauritius since 1847, followed by the rest of world. By historical standards, stamps almost instantly became an object of collection. Those who dream of obtaining a “British Guiana,” “Yellow Dog,” “Rosy Mercury” and “Blue Mauritius” have been called philatelists since the 19th century. There are many of them in the world: famous names include Rutherford, Franklin Roosevelt and Einstein.