Yes, Virginia, for a long time, stamps in the US were only sold in coils and sheets. If you wanted to buy just one stamp, the Post Master would just rip off the number of stamps you wanted from the sheet.

The sheets were normally in groups of 50 or 100 (or if you were really lucky 150, see the yellow “coin” ones above left). However recently there has been a transition to sheets that have 40, 20, or even fewer stamps, but we will get back to that.

Traditionally individuals purchase stamps by going to their Post Office and getting a sheet. Now besides that fact that most sheets are lick and stick, they have glue on the back that you have to lick to make it attached to your envelope, First Class mail rates did not change all that often. So buying a whole sheet, even if you did not mail that often, was still a good deal.

Postage rates historically for 1 oz letter

  • 1885-1917 2¢
  • 1917-1919 3¢
  • 1919-1932 2¢
  • 1932-1958 3¢
  • 1958-1963 4¢
  • 1963-1968 5¢
  • 1968-1971 6¢
  • 1971-1974 8¢
  • 1974-1975 10¢
  • 1975-1978 13¢
  • 1978-1981 18¢
  • etc….

Fun Fact

Postage is now 47¢, as it sent DOWN on April 10,2016.

Recently we have had changes in 2012,2013,2014,2016. They are coming a lot more frequently. So what is the USPS to do to mitigate all of the changes??

New Normal

With all of the changes, the USPS came up with the Forever Stamp in 2007. These stamps have no postage amount on the stamp and regardless of the price you paid for it, it will work on first class postage at the current rate. In fact, all first class stamps after 2011 are “Forever Stamps” and no longer indicate a numerical value on the stamp.

All stamps are also self-adhesive, so no longer requiring the licking part of lick-n-stick. They are sold in booklets or sheets that are usually 20 stamps.

But I Have Stamp Sheets

So what do you do about the sheets you have. Use them. You cannot return stamps to the USPS. Once you buy them, they are yours forever! The current market doesn’t even value many of them at face. On the wholesale market they sell for 60-80% of face value. Centennial guarantees 50% of face value at its sales for postage. At the base level, people do not want to have to lick multiple stamps to send a letter.  However if you don’t mind then you can do all of your mail at a reduced cost from face value! Yes some do not taste great, in fact, there is a 9¢ stamp in green with the US capital on it that, IMHO, is the worst tasting stamp EVER!!!!!

Back to What I Was Saying

But I have a favor to ask the USPS, stop with the random layout of stamps, it killing me Smalls!!!! I don’t need to work this hard to find my stamp on your sheet!