National first postal dates part 2: 1870 to 1900

Welcome back to our list of the first issues of stamps. 

You'll note that history is marching on.

Colonial powers are now focused very much on Africa. And that means installing bureaucratic machinery to extract all those resources with.

And the United States starts to become an imperial power in the Pacific.   

This list takes us up to 1900

National first postal dates

1870 Angola issues its first stamps, a design showing the Portugese crown that was used by all Portuguese colonies.

1871 Afghanistan’s first stamps were round, with an image of a lion and Arabic text.

First Japanese stamp

Japan's first stamps are still prized for their lovely design today. 

1871 April 20: the first stamps are issued in Japan. They centre on a pair of dragons. They were quickly replaced to update the currency denomination from mon to yen. They’re considered very attractive, and an error (with an inverted value) is the most valuable Japanese stamp, with an auction realisation of over £3.8 million.

1873 January 1: Iceland issues its first stamps, based on Danish designs with “ISLAND” added and values from 2 to 16 skilling.

1879 June 1: Bulgaria issues its first stamps. Although the Russo Turkish war of 1878 liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule, the country wasn’t fully declared independent until 1908. Issuing stamps was an important act of national self-determination.

1883 August 4: Siam (now Thailand) issues its first stamps. They were printed in London and had to be redesigned four years later to meet Universal Postal Union standards by naming the country in “international script”.

Thai One Solot stamp

Thailand, then Siam, issued the Solot series (referring to the currency) from 1883.

1886 British Bechuanaland issues its first stamps. It subsequently became part of Cape Colony, which became part of South Africa.

1886 Congo Free State (Belgian Congo) issues its first stamps. The state was the personal, private property of King Leopold of Belgium.

1890 Republic of the United States of Brazil issues stamps. It is Brazil’s first non-monarchical government (though it is not very democratic) and lasts until 1930.

1890 British East Africa issues stamps. Various territories with similar names coincide roughly with modern Kenya.

1891 April: British Central Africa issues stamps. In the same area as modern Malawi, BCA first used stamps from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) overprinted locally.

1892 January 2 British South Africa Company, Rhodesia issues stamps. The company included Cecil Rhodes among its directors and had a royal charter to “govern” on behalf of the UK Government.

British South Africa Company flag

The British South Africa Company had its own flag, coat of arms, postal services and stamps.

1892 Anjouan issues stamps.

1892 first stamps issued by Angra

1892 Benin issues stamps after using French colonial since 1888. The stamps are still French colonial issues, inscribed for the Établissments du Golfe de Benin.

1893 Hawaiian republic issues its first stamps.

1894 first stamps of French Somali Coast (now Djibouti) issued.

1895 Dahomey issues stamps, replacing those of Benin.

1897 Germany issues first stamps of Kamerun, a colony in what is now Cameroon.

1898 Cuban stamps for American military occupation issued. They’re overprints of US issued stamps.

1898 Puerto Rico’s first stamps issued.

1899 Philippines stamps issued by US authorities.

Buy rare, historic stamps here 

We sell historic stamps, including plenty of firsts. You can see just some of what we have in our store here. 

To get the latest news, learn when we get new, exciting pieces in, and to never miss out on discounts again sign up for our newsletter here. 

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock