The first postage stamps were printed in Britain and issued on May 6, 1840. The stamp, with its black ink and profile of Queen Victoria, cost one penny and became known as the "Penny Black."
Before the postage stamp, letters were paid for by recipients. Due to the high cost of delivery, they were often refused. This led to reform of the British postal system by Sir Rowland Hill, who proposed using a pre-paid stamp at a standard rate of one penny per half-ounce. An earlier postage system was designed in 1653 by French entrepreneur M. DeVelayer, but the system only delivered letters in envelopes purchased from him.