First Issues - Guinness

These pages are being rewritten, with a more narrative approach, here

I call these the Guinness pages because I took the idea from an excellent book, The Guinness Book of Stamps by James Mackay. Out of print, but well worth pursuing (mine was 10p from the local library), the centre pages contain a listing of first issues by type - the date of each country's first stamp, and its first commemorative, official, charity, airmail and postage due stamp. My plan is to reproduce that online, gradually gathering the necessary data and accumulating each stamp for display.
To the list of stamp types, I will add an "others" category which may include the last stamp (where appropriate), First Issue Stamps on Stamps, Express/Special delivery (so that I can include a couple of my favourites from Egypt and Russia) and anything else that takes my fancy - notably the only Blackburn stamp I know, from Canal Zone (there is another quasi Blackburn stamp from the Congo People's Republic; September 2004 another Blackburn pseudo stamp from Hawaii discovered). I have also included what I have termed the "first real stamp" and the "first sensibly priced stamp", explained in more detail here and here. December 2006, another Blackburn from Brunei.

I will aim to show the Scott and SG catalogue numbers (plus Michel where I have the catalogue) and the stamp details for each issue with an image of the stamps. Guinness takes the story up to 1986, and I have brought it up to date with the aid of information from FICC. Any corrections will be noted as research progresses. Where prices are shown, this is largely to help me with my own acquisitions, mostly from a 2004 copy of Gibbons Simplified and shown in pounds for mint/used see note.

Where there is a realistic prospect of me acquiring the stamp, the image can wait until I get one. In those cases where I will not be getting one (to take the obvious examples, Hawaii and Mauritius, but in reality most first issues costing more than £100 or other stamps more than £10), I will show the image from one of several sources. cont overleaf.
A good source for stamps is the founder of FICC, David Olson.

A good source for background information is Linns.

Later additions to this resource (both still works in progress) include Timelines and Alternative Views.
Then,  First Firsts added July 2003, Booklets  October 2004 and Penny Stamps, January 2005. First Issues Display, February 2007. Miniature Sheets, October 2007. There is also a varied section on topical stamps. The next subject will probably be centenary celebrations of first stamps: these are featured on the main pages where I have spotted them but have not been researched.
New for 2011 is a large page surveying GB definitives.

In April 2011 my web host moved me to a new server which caused several days of chaos and some ongoing problems - any missing images or dead links are probably attributable to that and will be gradually corrected. I would appreciate any feedback on items in need of repair. Please email me here and let me know the page(s) and element(s) affected.

First Country Commemorative Airmail Post Due Official Charity Other

1840 SC1 SG2
Penny Black
£3,400 / £200

see note 1.12

Great Britain

1924 Sc203 SG430
1 d red British Empire Exhibition
£10 / £11
private airmail issue

see note 1.2

Sc-C1 SG2358
NVI Europe
new blue and rosine

Sc-C2 SG2359
NVI Worldwide
rosine and new blue

1914 SC-J1 SG-D1
d green
50p / 25p

Sc-O2 SG-O1
d green
£50 / £20

see note 1.1

Image source 2
1840 Sc-O1
£8,500, £15,000

Sc-B1 SG970
4p + 1p azure and blue
Health and Handicap Funds
20p / 20p
Stamps on Stamps

1970 Sc642 SG835 10p

1990 SG949a £5
image size reduced

Image source 2
Sc-1L1 SG-Z1
4 rappen black
£10,000 / £12,000

see note 1.9

Zurich - - - - -
Stamps on Stamps
1943 SG430 10p

Image source 2
Sc-2L1 SG-G1
10 centimes black and green
£35,000 / £26,000

see note 1.9

 Geneva - - - - -
Stamps on Stamps

1968 SG764 30p


1843 SC1 SG4 Mi1
30 reis black
£2,250 / £375
Sc162 SG226 Mi138
100 r red
400th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil
£7 / £3.50


Sc-C1 SG441 Mi273
50 r surcharge on 1913 10r grey
35p / 35p

ScC17 SG469 Mi318
50r green
15p / 10p

see note 1.3

Sc-J1 SG-D88 Mi1
10 r red
£3.50 / £1.25

Sc-O1 SG-O282 Mi1
10 r orange and green
90p / 10p

Sc342 SG490 Mi338
10r+10r blue
15p / £12

see note 1.4

Sc-B1 SG555 Mi409
200r + 100r purple
National Philatelic Exhibition
£1.25 / £3


Stamps on Stamps

1943 SG680-82 £1-£2 each

1993 SG2581-2583  90p each

Image source 3
Sc-3L1 SG-B1
2 rappen carmine, black and blue
£7,000 / £6,500

see note 1.9

Basel - - - - - Stamps on Stamps

1943 miniature sheet here


Sc1 SG1
5 c brown
Benjamin Franklin
£3,750 / £375

Sc230 SG235
1 c blue
Columbian Exposition, Chicago
£15 / 15p

Sc-C1 SG-A546
6 c orange
Curtiss Jenny
£70 / £26

Sc-J1 SG-D207
1 c brown
£25 / £3.50

Sc-O1 SG-O180
1 c yellow
£55 / £35

Sc-B1 SG3454
32c + 8c multicoloured
Breast Cancer Awareness
50p / 10p

Sc-B2 SG4110
34c + 11c
Heroes of 2001, Firemen atop World Trade Centre Rubble
[90c / 65c]

Sc-E1 SG-E217
Special Delivery
10c blue
£120 / £25

Stamps on Stamps

1947 Sc948a

from a miniature sheet Sc948

Image source 3
Sc1 SG1
1 d red

see note 1.10

1860 Sc24 SG46
1 d purple-brown
£170 / £19

Sc112 SG133
36 cents orange and blue
Diamond Jubilee
£9 / £13

1899 Sc115 SG136
15 c blue
Admiral Mahe de Labourdonnais, Governor, 1735-46
£11 / £3.25

Sc-J1 SG-D1
2 c black
50p / 50p
- - Stamps on Stamps

SG266 10p


see note 1.5

Image source 2
Sc1 SG2 1
1 kreuzer black
£550 / £1,600

1849 Sc2 SG3
3 k blue
£38 / £2.75


German State

Sc92 SG169
5 pfennig yellow, green and black
25th anniversary of the regency of Prince Luitpold
50p / 75p

see note 1.6

Image source 2
Sc-J1 SG-D34
3 kr black
£120 / £350

Sc-O1 SG-O195
3 pf brown
20p / 75p

Sc-B1 SG250
10pf + 5pf lake
War Wounded surcharge
30p / £1.75

Stamps on Stamps
1949 Sc-B309 SG1035
10pf + 2pf green and black

Centenary of first German stamps

£13 / £21

Sc1 SG1
10 centimes brown
£1,700 / £70
Sc76 SG93
5 c green on red
Antwerp Exhibition
£3.25 / £2.25

Sc-C1 SG560
50 c blue
25p / 20p

Sc-J1 SG-D63
10 c green
£3 / £1.50

Sc-O1 SG-O481
5 c slate
10p / 10p

Sc-B1 SG117
1 c + 1 c grey
£1 / £1

Stamps on Stamps
SG2277 20p

Sc3 SG6
20 centimes black
£375 / £32
see note 1.7
Image source 2
Sc197 SG400e (Sc125 SG306 overprint)
1 franc red and green
Congres Philatelique de Bordeaux
£350 / £425

Sc198 SG401
10c green and light green
Paris Olympic Games
£2 / £1

see note 1.11

Sc-C1 SG455
2 f red and green (o/p SG387)
£140 / £140
see note 1.8

Sc-C5 SG483
1f50 red
£20 / £2.50

Sc-J1 SG-D87
10 c black
£20 / £16
Sc-B1 SG351
10c+5c red
£5.25 / £5.25

Stamps on Stamps
SG665 50p
Centenary of Bordeaux Ceres Issue

Guinness Table 1

1.1 The first Great Britain Official in Mackay and in Stanley Gibbons is the O1 1882 ½d green. My 1976 Scott specifies O1 as a Penny Black, 1840 regular issue with "V.R." in upper corners. I gather that this was intended and produced to be GB O1, but never released - some found their way into circulation as normal postage.
1.2 Neither Scott nor Gibbons show Mackay's 1928 GB airmail. The first airmails in Scott, as in the June 2003 Scott monthly mag, is this rather ordinary pair.
1.3 For the date of the first Brazilian airmail, Scott states 28th Dec 1927, Gibbons states 1928. The first 'real' airmail, designed for the purpose was the 1929 50r green C17, SG469 (15p / 10p).
1.4 Gibbons lists the first Brazilian charity stamp as the 1931 SG490 - Revolution of 3rd October, Scott #342. Scott offers as B1 the 1934 200r + 100r, first in a set of four to commemorate and support the National Philatelic Exhibition, SG555 (£1.25 / £3).
1.5 Mackay lists Bermuda's first issue as 1848. According to the Scott Classic, they started in 1845 with pre-stamp postal markings and progressed to postmaster stamps in 1848. The first little bits of sticky paper, i.e. what I would call a stamp, were in 1865 and so I will list Bermuda in a subsequent table.
1.6 I cannot find a Bavaria airmail in Scott or Gibbons, however, a fellow FICC member has provided the following, it is listed in [the] 1976 Michel Germany specialised cat ...after the 1911 set of 2 and before the 1914 heads definitives. It was issued by the BAYERISCHE AEROKLUB. The cat no is F1,and it shows a lion over a large letter A in a circle. Thanks Howard.
1.7 Scott #3 is the first French stamp issued.
1.8 The first 'real' French airmail, designed for the purpose was the 1930 1f50 red C5, SG483 (£20 / £2.50).
1.9 There is no sensibly-priced FSP for Zurich, Geneva or Basel. The best alternative is miniature sheets (still expensive but not in the same order of magnitude) or stamps on stamps.
1.10 The 1847 and 48 issues of Mauritius, none of which are affordable, were followed by some prosaic Britannia issues and then some more primitivist efforts, again out of my price range. With little agreement between Scott and Gibbons on the nature, dates and prices of the Britannias (other than the unissued Sc7 and 8, SG30 and 31), my FSP is the 1860 1d (used). If I find an inexpensive Britannia, I will include that in the pages.
1.11 France's first real and sensibly priced commemorative is from the 1924 Olympic Games set.
1.12 The Penny Black FDC is the 'Kirkcudbright cover', with ten Penny Blacks. More than 70 first-day Penny Black covers are known, but only this one has more than two Penny Blacks. From the Royal collection, image from the US National Postal Museum.

The Guinness Book of Stamps, James Mackay, 2nd ed, 1988
Stanley Gibbons Stamps of the World, various years incl. 2004
Scott Standard Catalogue, 1976 and 2004 Classic Specialised
Gibbons Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840-1952, 2004
The Stamp Collector's Encyclopaedia, R. J. Sutton, 1959

The general notes are now on another page.




In April 2011 my web host moved me to a new server which caused several days of chaos and some ongoing problems - any missing images or dead links are probably attributable to that and will gradually be corrected. I would appreciate any feedback on items in need of repair. Please email me here and let me know the page(s) and element(s) affected.

Page created 25th May 2003 - rewrite