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The study of postage stamps and their use is referred to as philately. Stamp collecting can be both a hobby and a form of historical study, as government-issued postage stamps and their mailing systems have often been closely involved with the history of nations. Rare Stamps can be sourced from mainly two periods: the classic period (1840-1900) and the semi modern period (1901-1940).

The first postage stamp was introduced in the United Kingdom in May 1st, 1840 to be used from May 6th. This stamp, the penny black, which shows an engraving of the young Queen Victoria with smooth, unperforated edges, had a face value of a penny and revolutionized the postal system in that it was now up to the sender to bear the cost of postage and not the recipient as had been the case until then. Because it was now so cheap to send letters (by 1840 a penny was not a lot of money), the change prompted an almost instant increase in the amount of mail. Other countries took notice and reformed their own postal system, amongst which Brazil in 1843, the United States in 1847 and France in 1849.