The simple postage stamp that many people take for granted has really come a long way since it was first used in the 1840s. World stamps have seen interesting times in the many decades they have been around. There are certainly many interesting but little known facts about stamps.
Nearly all world stamps have perforated edges. If you however thought that stamps have always been made like that then you are dead wrong. The earliest stamps did not have those perforations. Numerous stamps were printed on a single sheet of paper and the postman had to cut each customer a piece from the main sheet. This sounds pretty simple but it was a nightmare then because postmen found the task very difficult and many people ended up with damaged stamps. Fortunately, an inventor named Henry Archer developed a perforating machine that could punch the tiny holes you can now see between stamps. It was not until 1854 and after a lot of tinkering that Archer's machine was officially brought into service and from then onwards Britain started issuing easy-to-tear perforated stamps. Other countries struggled with the same problem but borrowing from Britain's success with perforated stamps they too acquired their own perforating machines.
Did you know that before world stamps came into being, it was common for a person to be billed for postage upon receiving mail? In Britain as well as in the US recipients footed the postage bills. The person receiving the mail and the postman equally loathed this system. The mail recipient was often unhappy when asked to pay for unsolicited mail and the postman had trouble collecting from intractable people refusing to pay up. Everything changed with the arrival of the stamp. Now, the sender had to pay for mail before sending the package, much to everyone's relief. The post office made more money and its staff was happy because they would never again have to argue with mail recipients. In the US this issue was so important that Congress passed a law in 1855 that required people to pay for postage before sending mail.
Here is another interesting fact about world stamps: Did you know that at one time stamps didn't have adhesive at the back? People had to apply their own glue to the stamps before affixing them on their mail. Some people even stitched them on!
Some rather interesting facts about stamps