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A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp issued to honor or commemorate a place, event or person.

Commemorative stamp

This 1998 stamp of the Faroe Islands marks the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This 1998 stamp of the Faroe Islands marks the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A commemorative stamp is a postage stamp issued to honor or commemorate a place, event or person. Most postal services of the world issue several of these each year, often holding first day of issue ceremonies at locations connected with the subjects. Commemorative stamps are usually used alongside ordinary or regular-issue stamps of the time, although in some cases their use has been obligatory.

There are several candidates for the title of first commemorative. A 17-cent stamp issued in 1860 by New Brunswick, showing the Prince of Wales in anticipation of his visit is one possibility. [1] The United States 15-cent black stamp of 1866 depicts Abraham Lincoln, and was the first stamp issued after his assassination in 1865, but it was not officially declared as a memorial to him. The U.S. also issued a 5-cent stamp in 1882 showing the recently murdered President James A. Garfield. In addition, the United States issued stamped envelopes for the Centennial Exposition in 1876, although technically these are postal stationery and not stamps. The UK's Jubilee Issue of 1887 may be thought of as commemorative of the 50 years' reign of Queen Victoria, although there are no special inscriptions on the stamps, and they were intended as regular stamps.
 

1888 1d of New South Wales, one of the first commemoratives in the world.

1888 1d of New South Wales, one of the first commemoratives in the world.

The first undoubtedly commemorative stamps were issued by New South Wales in 1888 to mark its 100th anniversary; the six types all include the inscription "ONE HUNDRED YEARS". Commemoratives followed in 1891 for Hong Kong and Romania, then in 1892 and 1893 a half-dozen nations of America issued commemoratives for the 400th anniversary of the discovery by Christopher Columbus.

The appearance of commemoratives caused a backlash among some stamp collectors, who balked at the prospect of laying out ever-larger sums to acquire the stamps of the world, and they formed the Society for the Suppression of Speculative Stamps around 1894 to blacklist what they deemed to be excessive stamps. However, it had very little effect, and today the early commemoratives are prized by collectors.

Today, commemorative stamp collection remains one of the most popular collection hobbies in the world.
 

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