The postage stamp was invented to indicate that postage has been paid on a mailed item. The first issued postage stamp, called the British Penny Black stamp, was released in May 1840 by Great Britain's Penny Post.
Rowland Hill, a schoolmaster from England, invented the adhesive postage stamp in 1837, an act for which he was knighted. Hill is also responsible for the creation of the first uniform postage rates that were based on weight rather than size. Thanks to Hill's efforts, the prepayment of mail postage was made possible and practical.
The United States issued its first postage stamps in 1847 in response to a critical need to modernize the expanding nation’s postal service. Due to issues such as steady immigration from Europe and the expansion onto western frontiers, the urgency of updating the channels for written communication increased greatly. Under the authorization of the Congressional Act of March 3, 1847, the first U.S. general-issue postage stamps were prepared for release throughout the country.
The collection and study of stamps is one of the world's most popular hobbies. Postage stamp collecting began shortly after the invention of the stamp and quickly became popular across Europe, European colonies, the United States and other parts of the world.