World Stamps

Lists of souvenirs for 1840 Penny Black anniversaries

Apr 21, 2021, 9 AM
Great Britain issued the world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black, in May 1840. American stamp clubs and stamp companies went all-out to honor its centenary in 1940 and subsequent anniversaries.

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Great Britain issued the world’s first postage stamp in May 1840. An example of that 1-penny stamp nicknamed the Penny Black is pictured here. The 100th anniversary of the Penny Black was an occasion for celebration in 1940. America’s stamp collectors went all out to meet the challenge.

Keith Johnson of Studio City, Calif., is a passionate collector of the materials created by stamp clubs and companies to observe the 100th and subsequent anniversaries of this stamp.

Two years ago, he provided for Linn’s readers an electronic list of the souvenir sheets, vignettes and labels produced in the United States to celebrate the centenary of the Penny Black — often as a theme for stamp club exhibitions. The list is eight pages long. It was and remains available from me for the asking.

The list was first offered in my U.S. Stamp Notes column in the May 27, 2019, issue of Linn’s. That column also explained how the U.S. Post Office Department worked with President Franklin Roosevelt toward issuing a stamp or souvenir sheet to honor the Penny Black centenary and how the effort was derailed. A copy of that article can also be provided as an email attachment.

Johnson has now followed up with a second list detailing the covers, cinderellas (stamp-like labels), and letterheads produced from 1939 through 2016 honoring the Penny Black. This 18-page list is also available gratis as an email attachment.

To request any or all of these three documents, drop me a line by email at

My thanks to Johnson for his years of work gathering the material for his lists and for his research to determine the full range of what each producer created.

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