You can buy envelopes and postage stamps not only at a post office close to you, but also at various retail stores. With the list on this page, you will be able to find many pharmacies and retail stores that sell stamps conveniently close to your home. The list includes well known stores such as Rite aid, CVS and Walmart. Various Check Cashing Place outlets and banks – although these normally only sell stamps in books. Even the biggest Internet-based retailer in the world, Amazon sells postage stamps and you can also find them on USPS’s website.
Where can I buy stamps near me?
|Company||Stores Near you|
|Amazon (Online Store, 24 Hours)||Visit Amazon’s website|
|Walmart (Retailer, 8am – 10pm)||Walmart near me locations|
|CVS (Pharmacy, 8am – 9pm)||CVS near me locations|
|Staples (Copy Center, 8am – 9pm)||Staples near me locations|
|USPS (Post Office, 8am – 9pm)||USPS near me locations|
|Walgreens (Pharmacy, 8am – 8pm)||Walgreens near me locations|
|Rite Aid (Pharmacy, 8am – 7pm)||Rite Aid near me locations|
Who invented the postage stamp?
When we investigate postal history, we find that a number of inventions have been used to show that postage was paid for an item that is sent via mail. The result of this is that several people were credited with the postage stamp’s creation.
A Slovene civil servant named Lovrenc Košir suggested charging postal tax by attaching stamps artificially in 1835. Košir lived in Ljubljana in Slovenia (the then Austria Hungary) and his suggestion involved what he called “pressed paper wafers.” Although the idea was investigated in detail, it was never implemented.
William Dockwra, a merchant from London, England founded the London Penny Post in 1680 together with Robert Murray, his partner. The Penny Post was a mail delivery system that distributed small packages and letters within London’s city limits. The company charged one penny per item for the service. Customers prepaid the item’s postage and this was confirmed by franking the mailed item with a stamp applied by hand. Although the stamping was done directly on the letter and not on other pieces of paper, most historians consider this as the 1st postage stamp in the world.
In 1835, Sir Rowland Hill from England started advocating postal reform. Robert Wallace, a Member of Parliament, gave Hill numerous documents and books on the subject in 1836. Hill studied these documents in detail and eventually published a pamphlet with the title “Post Office Reform its Importance and Practicability” in 1837. On 4 January 1837, Hill sent the pamphlet to Thomas Spring-Rice, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As the first copy was marked as confidential, it was not made public. Spring-Rice requested a meeting with Hill during which he proposed that changes and improvements be made available as a supplement. Hill produced this proposed supplement and gave it to Spring-Rice on the 28th January 1837.
On the 13th February 1837, Rowland Hill was then summoned to provide evidence to the Commission for Post Office Enquiry. While providing this evidence, Hill quoted from the pamphlet he had sent to Spring-Rice and included a statement that paid postage might be created by making use of bits of paper that were just big enough to accept the franking stamp. The back of the piece of paper should be covered with a sticky substance.
For the first time, an explicit description of the postage stamp with adhesive as we know it today had been published. Soon thereafter, on 22 February 1837, Hill published the 2nd edition of his booklet. This edition was released to the public. The booklet contains about 28,000 words and included the supplement sent to the Spring-Rice, as well as Hill’s statements made at the Commission enquiry.
Hill’s ideas to charge postage based on weight and using postage stamps soon became popular, and were accepted in several countries. With postal services across the world now charging by the item’s weight, the use of envelopes to mail documents soon became standard. Edwin Hill, Rowland Hill’s brother, invented a machine that made envelopes by folding paper to make the envelopes fast enough to keep pace with the ever increasing demand for stamps.
Rowland Hill is commemorated on various special stamp issues of the UK for the reforms he introduced to the United Kingdom’s postal system.
Patrick Chalmers, a Scotsman, claimed that James Chalmers, his father, invented the postage stamp. This claim was made in “The Penny Postage Scheme of 1837,” a book published in 1881. In the book, Patrick claims that his father wrote an essay in August 1834 describing and encouraging the use of stamps. Evidence of the essay is however not given in Patrick’s book. Patrick tried to drum up support to recognize that his father was the originator of postage stamps until his death in 1891.
Independent confirmation for this claim consists of the essay Chalmers sent to the General Post Office proposing the use of adhesive postage stamps. The essay’s date was the 8th February 1838 and the Post Office received it on the 17th of February. In this document that is about 800 words long, he describes methods of indicating that the postage on letters has been paid.
Chalmers’ proposal suggests that a cost effective and easy way to indicate that postage has been paid would be to use separate “Slips” of paper. He also suggests that these Slips should be pre stamped and be manufactured in sheets onto which glue should be rubbed. The original document is on display in the National Postal Museum in the UK.
James Chalmers mentions the exact same denominations for postage as what Rowland Hill proposed in February 1837. From this it seems as if Chalmers knew about Hill’s proposals, but it is not known whether he read Hill’s booklet, or read about Hill in The Times. The newspaper published long, detailed articles on Hill’s proposals on the 25th March 1837 and again in the issue of 20 December 1837.
As the newspaper articles did not mention pieces of paper large enough to bear a stamp, it’s clear that Chalmers did not learn that Hill had suggested using these from the articles. This means that Chalmers had either read Hill’s booklet previously and was merely developing Hill’s ideas further, or that he independently developed the idea of postage stamps at the same time that Hill did.
James Chalmers also arranged four petitions that advocated a uniform, low postage rate. These were submitted to the House of Commons on the following dates:
- 4 December 1837 – from Montrose.
- 1 May 1838 – from Cupar and Dunbar.
- 14 May 1838 – from Forfar.
- 12 June 1839.
During this time, various other groups also arranged petitions and submitted them to Parliament. The petitions all advocated low cost, consumer oriented postal rates based on volume and followed the revelation of the proposals made by Hill.
Other claimants over the years include:
- A Scottish tax official, Samuel Forrester.
- The British Museum’s Dr John Gray.
- Samuel Roberts from Llanbrynmair, Wales.
- A London stationer, Charles Whiting.
- Ferdinand Egarter from Spittal, Austria.
- A Loughton schoolmaster, Francis Worrell Stevens.
- Sweden’s Curry Gabriel Treffenberg.
History Of The Postage Stamp
Although many people claimed the idea of the postage stamp as their own, it is known that postage stamps were first put in use in the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland on the 1st of May 1840. This was as a direct result of the postal reforms proposed by Sir Rowland Hill. With the introduction of stamps, postage fees were paid by the sender rather than the recipient, although mail could still be sent without prepaying. Right form the time when postage stamps were first being used, postmarks were used to stop the stamps from being used more than once.
On 1 May 1840, the “Penny black” was the first stamp to become available for purchase. It was valid from 6 May 1840. On 8 May 1840, two days later, the Two pence blue was released. The Penny black was to be used to send a letter that weighed less than half an ounce anywhere within the UK. Both the Penny black and the Two pence blue featured an engraved image of a very young Queen Victoria. These first stamps did not have perforations and they were cut from their sheets with scissors. The stamps also did not require to show the country where they were issued, so the country name was not shown. To this day, the UK is still the only country that does not print its name on postage stamps, as they use an image of the reigning monarch’s head as identification. Once postage stamps were introduced in the UK, prepaid postage resulted in a considerable increase in the number of letters sent by mail. In a typical year before 1839, 76 million letters were sent in the UK. This number had increased to 350 million by 1850. The rapid increase continued right up to the end of 1999 when new methods of showing postage payment resulted in a decrease in stamp usage.
Once the UK had introduced stamps, other countries quickly followed suit. In Switzerland, the Canton of Zürich issued the Zurich 4 & 6 Rappen in March of 1843. The Penny black could be used to send letters weighing less than half an ounce to anywhere in the UK, but the Swiss initially decided not to implement that method. They opted instead to continue calculating mail fees based on mail travel distance. In August 1843, the so called Bull’s Eye postage stamp was introduced in Brazil. The same printing company that printed the Penny black stamp was used for this stamp, but Brazil used the abstract design rather than an image of their Emperor Pedro II. This was done so that the emperor’s image would never be blemished by applying a postmark. Various U.S. postmasters issued stamps of their own in 1845, but the first American stamps were only officially issued in 1847. These were 10 and 5 cent stamps portraying George Washington and Benjamin Franklin respectively. Late in the 1840s, various other countries also started issuing postage stamps. In September 1847, Mauritius issued their famous “Post Office” stamp. Other countries, including India, started using stamps around 1854, while most countries were issuing stamps by 1860.
In January 1854 the perforation of stamps was started, with the first official perforated stamps being issued in February of 1854. Henry Archer conducted trials to perforate stamps and the first of these trial stamps were issued late in 1850. During the House of Commons of the UKs’ parliamentary session held in 1851, more perforated stamps were released. The United Kingdom government finally paid Archer the princely sum of 4,000 pounds for the patent and his machine in 1853/54.
The first stamps that were issued around the 1840s, were almost identical in size, shape and subject matter. All were rectangular and contained images of Presidents, Queens, or famous political figures. The amount of postage that had been paid and the name of the country issuing the stamp was also printed on the stamps. As mentioned before, the UK was (and still is) the only country that did not print its name on stamps.
Early stamps nearly always only used an image of a national leader. Soon thereafter however, other designs and subjects were being used. Some design elements were accepted easily, but others received wide criticism. When the American Post Office started using other images such as a horse and a train in 1869, this change was met with widespread disapproval, and even harsh criticism.
Materials and Shapes
Later stamps were issued in many geometric shapes including circles, triangles and pentagons, as well as irregular shapes. In the U.S., a circular stamp was issued depicting a hologram of Earth in 2000, while both Tonga and Sierra Leone have issued fruit shaped stamps.
A special type of specifically designed paper is used for stamps and they are normally printed in either sheets, small books, or rolls. Other materials used for postage stamps include:
- The U.S. produced a plastic stamp.
- Switzerland manufactured a stamp containing lace and even one made from wood.
- The Netherlands used silver foil for a stamp.
- East Germany manufactured stamps from synthetic chemicals.
- Bhutan issued a stamp on a record that could play their national anthem.
Subjects on the postage stamp face normally defines a specific stamp issued to the general public. These subjects are often the main reason why history enthusiasts and collectors collect a specific issue. The graphical elements on postage stamps early on mainly used depictions of queens, kings and presidents. This later changed to birds, ships, famous people, satellites, comics, historical events, hobbies, dinosaurs, holiday themes, sport and many other subjects.
Choosing the subject and the stamp printing method involves engravers, designers, artists, and administrative officials. Engravings were mostly used for early stamp images. This process involves etching a design onto a die made from steel. The die was hardened and its impression transferred to printing plates. Engraved images were used as it was believed that this is a secure method of producing stamps. Unless you are a master engraver, it’s just about impossible to fake highly detailed images that contains raised lines. In the 1950s, stamp were produced by different types of printing, including intaglio, photogravure, and lithography. Although these printing methods are cheaper, they normally produce lower quality images.
As the usage of postage stamps has decreased considerably compared to a decade or so ago, due to the rise of faster, reliable and efficient emails, postage stamps have become relatively expensive.
Recent prices for postage stamps are listed below:
- Domestic Mail – the average cost ranges between $0.30 and $0.90 up to a maximum weight – for each additional ounce you will have to pay $0.21.
- Domestic Shipping for bigger items – standard rate envelopes & packages could cost up to $22 each.
What are postage stamps used for?
Postages stamp are a type of receipt and they are used as evidence that the person sending the mail has in fact paid the mailing fees. Mailing fees in the form of a stamp is only applicable to the old, traditional snail mail – we’re not talking about electronic mail (email) here. Postage stamps are small, specially designed pieces of paper stuck to a mail item. It often has an image of national significance, ranging from cultural symbols to historical figures. The denomination, as well as the name of the country, are also printed on the stamp. This information signifies the mail’s nature and it enables its delivery through numerous phases up to the final destination.
The usage of postage stamps dates back to the middle of the 18th century and the whole mailing system is built on them. Although they are small, the mailing system is able to run extremely efficiently due to these adhesive stamps. Many people think that mail is simply a matter of writing, sealing and sending. Handling snail mail is however much more complicated than what many people realize. There are numerous details that have to be resolved to get mail from point A to point B, and this is handled by the companies who run the mailing system, and the postal employees.
Some of the variables in the postal system are:
- Should mail be transported by boat, train, road transport, or by airplane?
- Is the mail classified as regular mail (relatively slow), or premium fast mail?
- Does the mail consist of letters, important official documents, or newspapers?
To complicate things more, there are business customers who will pay higher fees to have their important mail delivered with the highest priority. To cater for these customers, postage stamps with “promo” on them have been specially made. There are for example express mail stamps and special delivery stamps. This enables the postal workers to give mail with that type of stamp priority treatment so that it is able to reach the intended destination in the shortest possible time. Another group of customers will pay more so that their mail can be made more specialized. To cater for this, a personalized stamp has been designed. Users can stick their own images onto it to give the package sentimental value.
With their being so many different kinds of mails that must be delivered, methods have to exist that will make sorting effective, while at the same time doing this in the shortest space of time. The humble postage stamp assists mail handlers in sorting and categorizing the thousands of mail items they have to handle easily. By looking at the stamps, they can quickly sort mail into piles of a specific stamp type and then send them where they need to go. Most importantly, it simplifies postal transactions for managers and customers alike.
As the majority of snail mail has been replaced by e-mails that are both more reliable and faster, postage stamps are not as widely used as before. As you may know, the majority of snail mail of the past era were letters. Lovers, friends and family members alike communicated with each other with letters sent via the mail when they were far apart. In today’s electronic world, you are able to simply login to any of the many chat or social sites out there on the internet to be able to speak to, and see anyone, anywhere in the world instantly. This has resulted in postage stamps becoming collector’s items rather than them having any practical function.
Postage stamps are now a favorite collectable for historical item and antique collectors. Every country in the world has unique and varied postage stamps, each with their national colors and design, but even these have changed multiple times throughout the years. This creates a huge variety of stamps for any country, and makes postage stamp collecting interesting and fun!
Although the sending of articles through snail mail has become obsolete, many items other than letters still need to be delivered to far away locations via mail and this still requires postage stamps.
Where to buy stamps near me conveniently?
While a post office close to you is obviously still the main provider of postage stamps, not everybody lives close to one. If you don’t have a post offices near you, or can’t get to one easily, there are other options that might be for you:
All banks generally sell stamps, although certain branches don’t stock them. Bank of America and TD bank both have rolls and stamp books available to buy. Check if the branches of your local banks sell stamps. When you find one that does, take note of their operating hours. Some of them close as early as 5pm, which won’t give you much time to get to them if you work full days.
- Big Box Retailers
CVS, Walmart and Walgreens all have stores in most large cities in America. Their trading either normally extend to late in the evening, while some are even open 24 hours per day. Any of these retail stores will be able to supply you with stamps, envelopes, wrapping paper and many other stationary supplies you may want to buy.
Walgreens and Rite Aid have been selling stamps for ages, but many local pharmacies now do the same. You will normally find a good selection of stamps to buy at your own local pharmacy.
- Check Cashing Place outlets
You will most probably be able to purchase stamps at your closest Check Cashing Place outlet. This is very convenient as most stay open until late at night, which could be handy if you need a stamp urgently, or can’t get anywhere else during the day. As Check Cashing Place outlets do however normally not sell bigger quantities of stamps like rolls or books, you may need to visit a post office close to you for the best price and bigger quantities.
- Grocery Stores
It is possible that your local supermarket, bodega, or corner store has postage stamps for sale, but you will have to ask to make sure. Simply go to the counter to check – buying stamps may in fact be easier than you think.
- Copy Centers and Office Supply outlets
Staples, Office Depot and Fed Ex all have a wide assortment of stamps available. You should not have a problem finding one of these close to you, as these stores are fairly common.
Amazon sells anything you can possibly think of and that includes stamps. Amazon offers stamps in sheets, rolls, books and coils. Simply order online and Amazon will arrange for delivery right to your doorstep.
Postage stamps are sometimes sold at discounted prices. This works the same as your favorite store having a sale on special occasions and / or days. The best way to pay less for postage stamps is however to purchase them in bulk. Buying anything in bulk is often much cheaper than purchasing in small quantities. If you are looking at buying stamps in bulk, the information below might be useful:
Stamps are sold in rolls, books, or coils.
Rolls – a roll of stamps contains 10 stamps.
Books – a book of stamps comes in 20 stamps per book.
Coils – a coil is huge set, each containing 10,000 stamps.