If the telegraph was the Victorian internet, then the modern, government-run, pre-paid postal system (which didn't come together much earlier) was the modern DARPA, or something.
The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp of a public postal system. It was issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 May 1840, for use from 6 May of that year. Although all London post offices received official issues of the new stamps, other offices throughout the United Kingdom did not, instead continuing to accept postage payments in cash only for a period. Post offices in some localities, such as those in the city of Bath, began offering the stamp unofficially after 2 May.
Thomas Moore Musgrave was postmaster of Bath from 1833 until his death in 1854. He was the first person in the world ever to send a stamp. The famous May 2nd Penny Black, was posted from Bath on a letter a few days before stamps were officially allowed.
From the Bath Postal Museum via Clusterflock.
The work of Charles and Ray Eames will be honored with a set of 16 US stamps later this year. (via chris glass)
Are the USPS's "forever" stamps a good deal for the consumer? "Absolutely not." Stamp prices increase more slowly than the inflation rate so stamps are continually getting cheaper.
Remember the whole rare stamp on a Florida absentee ballot thing? Turns out it was a fake. "The give-away signs included an incorrect number of border perforations, the stamp's thickness and its colour." (thx, m)
A Florida voter sent in their absentee ballot with an extremely rare stamp, the 1918 Inverted Jenny. Two other stamps from the 30s and 40s were on the envelope as well. It looks like the stamps are sealed away with other voting ballots by law for 22 months.
Update: My skeptical friend David says this almost certainly has to be a hoax. "They used stamps.com or something to print these counterfeit images, knowing the votes would be locked up by law. What are even the mathematical chances that those three stamps are in the same place, and that the person who used them (all three) didn't know how valuable they were?" I am eagerly awaiting the follow-up to this in 22 months...I put an item in my calendar for September 5, 2008 reminding me to poke around for news at that time.