A Postal code, also known in various countries as a post code, postcode, or ZIP code, is a series of letters and/or digits appended to a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.
Germany was the first country to introduce a postal code system, in 1941. The United Kingdom followed in 1959 and the United States in 1963. By February 2005, 117 of the 190 member countries of the Universal Postal Union had postal code systems. A few countries that do not have national systems include Hong Kong and Panama.
Postal services have their own formats and placement rules for postal codes. In most English-speaking countries, the postal code forms the last item of the address, whereas in most continental European countries it precedes the name of the city or town. Most postal codes are numeric. The few independent nations use alphanumeric postal code systems, such as, Argentina, Canada and United Kingdom.
Before postal codes were devised large cities were often divided into postal zones or postal districts, usually numbered from 1 upwards within each city. The newer postal code systems often incorporate the old zone numbers, as with London postal district numbers, for example. Ireland still uses postal district numbers in Dublin.
A magnifying glass is a convex lens which is used to produce a magnified image of an object. The lens is usually mounted in a frame with a handle though other designs are produced. A magnifying glass works by creating a magnified virtual image of an object behind the lens. Stamp collectors frequently use magnifying glasses to inspect their stamps. This photograph shows the magnified image of the Deutsche Post 1 Reichsmark stamp issued on May 12 1946.
Sir Rowland Hill (1795–1879) was a British teacher and pamphleteer who popularised the concept of penny postage at a rate of a penny per half ounce, without regard to distance. He is usually credited in the UK with originating the basic concepts of the modern postal service.
Hill published his famous pamphlet Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability in 1837 in which he called for postage to be prepaid by the sender. Hitherto postage had been paid by the recipient. He suggested the prepayment be proven by prepaid letter sheets or adhesive stamps.
In 1840 his proposals led to the introduction of the world's first postage stamp; the Penny Black.
Things you can do
Did you know...
... that the first Penny Post was established in London in 1680 by William Dockwra nearly 200 years before the better known Uniform Penny Post that was part of the postal reforms of 1839 and 1840 in Great Britain.
... that Czesław Słania (1921-2005) is the most prolific stamp engraver, with more than 1,000 post stamps for 28 postal administrations?
... that a forerunner is a postage stamp used during the time period before a region or territory issues stamps of its own?
... that the Royal Philatelic Society is the oldest philatelic society in the world, founded in London in 1869?
... that Marcophily is the specialised study and collection of postmarks, cancellations and postal markings applied by hand or machine on mail?
... that throughout U.S. history, different types of mail bags have been called mail pouch, mail sack, mail satchel, catcher pouch, mochila saddle mailbag, and portmanteau depending on form, function, place and time?
... that Non-denominated postage are postage stamps that do not show a monetary value on the face?
... that the Daguin machine was a cancelling machine first used in post offices in Paris in 1884?
... that the first airmail of the United States was a personal letter from George Washington carried on an aerial balloon flight from Philadelphia by Jean Pierre Blanchard?
Stamp of the month
The Inverted Jenny was a postage stamp, issued by the United States on May 10, 1918. The image of a Curtiss JN-4 airplane in the center of the design was accidentally printed upside-down. One sheet, of 100 stamps, was found at a post office and bought by a collector just four days after issue on May 14 and sold soon afterwards for US$15,000.
Because the stamp was printed in two colors, each sheet had to be fed through the printing press twice, a process that resulted in the invert error. Several misprinted sheets were found during the production process and destroyed. This error is one of the most prized in all philately; as of 2003 , an inverted Jenny would typically sell for around US$150,000.
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