The many uses of postage stamps


‘Revenue’stamps forgovernmentdocuments.

  • A POSTAGE stamp began as a small piece of paper, carrying a monetary value on it to acts as a prepaid factor for postal services rendered.  

    Over a period of time, the original function of a contract between the customer and post office has been diverted to other functions with additional roles, usually acting for government transactions, eg. to seal agreements, contracts, property sales, rental, money lending, etc. 

    Three main roles of postage stamps are: 

  • it acts as receipt of payment for ‘specific performances’ by postal authorities – a receipt with value attached stamp to denote actual cost of transaction .
  • it promotes the nation’s ‘heritage’ with more emphasis on bilateral trade with other nations. Thus it acts as a promotional tool. 

  • As a collectible item – basically for philately. 

    The varied functions of the “postage stamps’’ 

    Taking into account the three functions, the basic fact of a postage stamp is the value tag levied by the postal authorities for services rendered. Though the postage stamps carry a certain value on them, they may not fetch the same value in an open market. Perhaps it only acts as a itemised rate for individual purposes and the price tag could fluctuate. 

    The money function of the postage stamps are: 

  • a prepayment of postage 

  • a quasi-currency 

  • a prepayment of duty or revenue. 

    Other functions of postage stamps can be listed as: 

  • brand images of the postal administration 

  • celebrating images of the country 

  • promotional images of the postal services 

  • government marketing tools 

  • brand image of the postal administration 

  • imaged paper ambassadors, representing the country of origin 

  • collectibles for philatelists 

  • souvenirs  

    Though the functions of postage stamps are many, their use to prepay services like licences, telegrams, contractual obligation, etc cannot be discounted. Since postage stamps act as a prepayment, it is further enhanced as a monetary tool in government activities. The quasi-currency status reveals the value included tag that could be used for not only services but also for global trade. 

    In the later part of 1840’s, several countries used postage stamps as “revenue” stamps but towards the later stages, they were phased out and replaced with special revenue stamps (only to be used in documentary transactions).  

    However, both the “postage” and “revenue” stamps have become of primarily importance in the philatelic world. 

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