India on First Postage Stamp ‘Penny Black’

A commemorative postage stamp on the 150th Anniversary of the 1st Postage Stamp :

1232 First Postage Stamp [India Stamp 1990]Issued by India

Issued on May 6, 1990

Description of Design : The stamp depicts the Penny Black on a cover “cancelled as the first postage stamp”. The stamp has been designed by Madhukar DeogawankaThe First day cover reproduces an outline of the Mulready envelope. Cancellation design is by Smt. Alka Sharma.

Type : Stamp, Postal Used

Colour : Multicolour

Denomination : 600 Paise

Overall size : 2.90 x 2.90 cms.

Printing size : 2.54 x 2.54 cms.

Perforation : 13 x 13

Paper : Imported un W/M Adhesive Gravure Coated stamp paper

Number Printed : 15,00,000

Number per issue sheet : 56

Printing Process : Photogravure

Printed : India Security Press

About : 

  • The first adhesive postage stamp was issued in Britain 150 years ago. It was a small, square piece of paper, black in colour and showing the Queen‘s head and postage of one penny. This stamp is popularly known as Penny Black. The Penny Black was put on sale on 1st May, 1840, though it was valid for postage only from 6th May, 1840. This stamp, which became a trend-setter, has an interesting background.
  • In 1937, Sir Rowland Hill had published two pamphlets on Post Office Reforms and collection of postage by means of stamps. Through these pamphlets, he pleaded for the introduction of a uniform postage rate of one penny per half ounce weight regardless of the distance and the prepayment of postage. In the context of payment of postage, Hill Suggested the issue of ‘small stamped labels’. His idea of these labels was described as “a bit of paper just large enough to bear a stamp”.
  • To obtain a suitable design for the adhesive stamp, the Treasury organised a competition. Even though 2600 entries were received, none was considered suitable for use. Ultimately, Hill decided to use the Queen’s portrait in the size and format as shown on the Tax labels. For the portrait he selected the design of the Queen’s head as engraved on the commemorative City Medal of 1837 by William Wyon. Henry Carbould, a London artist, was commissioned to prepare the water colour based on Wyon’s medal for the postage stamp. The design was printed in black colour for the one penny stamps and in blue colour for the two pence stamps though the latter were not available till 8th May, 1840.
  • Items of stationary like letter sheets, wrapper and envelopes also appeared along with the Penny Black. Of these, the Mulready envelopes (named after William Mulready the designer) were the most famous though the least popular. The Penny Blacks were in use for less than a year and were replaced by the Penny Red in 1841.
  • After the issue of the Penny Blacks, one country after the other started issuing postage stamps. India embarked on stamp issues in 1852 when the Scinde Dawk‘s were issued for use in Sind and on the BombayKarachi route.

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