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Whose Portrait Is Shown on the Very First Postage Stamp

August 08, 2019

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Penny Black with the portrait of the queen.

Many philatelists, even the most experienced ones, often wonder who is portrayed on the first postage stamp. We will answer this question straight away and dispel all the myths – this is Queen Victoria, whose portrait was printed on the very first postage stamp. Just for your information, Queen Victoria reigned in the UK from 1837 to 1901, which makes it 63 years in total. The period of her reign was much longer than that of any other English monarch. In world history, only several rulers have been at the throne of the country for such a long period of time.

Q Victoria.jpg

Queen Victoria.

The first postage stamp of Great Britain (and the first one in the world) was issued in 1840 on the initiative of R. Hill. It reproduced the profile of Queen Victoria. Thus, this stamp laid the whole tradition to print images of the ruling monarchs on postage stamps.

Interestingly, many philatelists mistakenly believe that the first stamp shows the profile of Queen Elizabeth. There were Elizabeth I and II in the British royal dynasties. None of them had the honor to be portrayed on the first postage stamp. Elizabeth I reigned in the 16-17 centuries, and Elizabeth II, who has every chance to break the record of Queen Victoria, is the Queen of Great Britain at the present time. It is curious that on all contemporary UK stamps available at various online stamp auctions, you can see a portrait or a profile of Elizabeth II.