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History of Stamps

New renaissances had been created in the education sector with beginning of 16th centaury. Literary which was limited to educationalists, priests and administrators was expanded for a certain extent. So the public was enable get knowledge according to their language ability. As a result of this, people exchanged messages among themselves quickly. For this purpose a system was created to exchange news from village to village, city to city and nation to nation. To reduce difficulty in transferring the messages from one place to another, the final receiver was handed over the responsibility of getting a fee for this service.

They studied a system in 18th centaury to charge a payment for this delivery of post letters and messages which is done with immense difficulty to the receiver. As a result of this study, the proposal was put forwarded by a British national called Sir Ronald Hill and it was accepted by the British government and measures were taken to print first postal stamp of the world in 6th May of 1840.

Later by using this procedure through out the world and British colonial countries took measures to print stamps.

Accordingly our island called as Ceylon in that time took measures to print stamps with the photo of Victorian Queen as first time in the history of Sri Lanka with value of 6 pence.

Since this new postal charge system was introduced, and it is still in the implementation this had led to charge payment for post locally and internationally.

The stamps that were used from the inception of postal service to to-date also being displayed in this exhibition.

Stamps printed during the period of Queen Victoria 1857 – 1900
Stamps printed during the period of King Edward the 7th 1903 – 1910
Stamps printed during the period of King George the 5th 1912 – 1935
Stamps printed during the period of King George the 6th 1937 – 1947
Stamps printed after the independence 1948 – 2000

World First Postage Stamp

The World’s first Postage stamp was issued in 1840 May, 6 with Head of Queen Victoria by the Government of British as the proposal submitted by Sir Roland Hill. The World’s first stamp which was issued with a penny value presently valued to 50,000 British pounds.

Ceylon First Postage stamp

Sri Lanka’s first postage stamp was issued in 1857 April 01st with Head of Queen Victoria of British with 6 pence value. Presently this stamp was valued as equal to 7500 British pounds.


Instead of printing a new postage, re-printing the same stamp by cutting off the facial value of the old stamp is comes under this category. Several Victorian era stamps were widening the stamp world due to this system. Over print of several price valued stamps was done due to the reasons of non availability of necessary adequate stamps, lack of adequate stamps which were used commonly.


Once the facial value of a stamp remains as it is when separating an amount of stamps for a special activity to identify that same stamp printing a particular phrase or symbol is coming under this category. Stamps printed during the period of Queen Victoria had the phrase of “On Service” “On Service” and the stamps printed during the period of King George the 5th had the phrase of “War Stamp”.

Great Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria, who born in 24th May of 1819 in Kingston of Great Britain, had got the Crown at her very early youth age. World’s first postal stamp was printed in 1840 at her age of 18, with her head photograph. Her photo was installed in all stamps that were printed in between 1880 – 1900.

Cents Stamps

Instead of facial value of Pence and Siling stamps, in 1972 new series of stamps with rupee value were introduced. With the head of Queen Victoria Cent’s stamps of value 02, 04, 16, 24, 32, 36, 48, 64 and 96 were printed.

Stamps issued during the period of King Edward 7th

After the Queen Victoria British crown was transferred to King Edward 7th. Stamps with the photograph of his Head were started to issue from 1903. Until 1910 year 36 stamps with his photograph were printed.

Stamps issued during the period of King George 5th

British Crown was given to King George 5th from 1910 to 1935. In 1912 a series of stamps with his photograph was released. 75 year history of stamps turned a point in 1935. This is because for printing stamps several beautiful scenes of Sri Lanka were used in 11 stamps within a year

Issue of stamps to mark take over of rule George 5th George 5th Silver Jubilee stamps issue.

As memorandum of 25 years rule of the George the 5th in 1935 may 6, 4 stamps were printed in value of cents 06, 09, 20 and 50. These are considered first series of stamps of commemoration that printed in Sri Lanka. In these stamps British king’s palace photo and the bust of George the 5th. The special feature of these stamps was that they were printed for a common theme by several countries. It is more important that Sri Lanka was also a contributor to this task

Stamps issued during the period of King George 6th.

During the period between 1935 -1947 stamps were issued with Head of King George the 6th. In 1937 May 12th for the first time in connection with duty assuming ceremony stamps value of cents 06, 09, and 20 of 3 stamps were printed. This was second Sri Lankan contribution for a common theme of celebrating assuming the kingship.

Second World War’s Victory commemoration Stamps

For the commemoration of Second World War victory with the photograph of British Parliament, British Thames River and Head of 6th George King with value of 06 and 15 cents two stamps were printed in 10th December 1946.

Stamps printed for the sake of New State Constitution

The Soulbury Commission was created in 1944 December 14th to propose a proper Constitution to Sri Lanka aftermath of the end of Second World War. White report of the Soulbury Commission was debated in the State Council in 1945 November and it was passed by 15 votes in favor and 3 votes were against the proposal. On that base New Constitution was enacted in 15th May of 1946. These 04 stamps were printed while introducing the new constitution. It is an important feature that for the first time the assistance of two artists of Sri Lanka was obtained to this task.

War Stamps

The First World War which lasted from 1914 July 28 to 1918 November 11 is another milestone in the World history. In 1918, for the first time for the purpose of war affairs some selected “War Stamps” or “War stamps One Cents” were printed. This type of stamp was firstly printed in the same year November 18th.

The Origin Of The Sri Lankan Stamps

As a result of the new renaissances in the education sector with beginning of the 16th centaury, a trend of exchanging messages among people who lived in distant places. In sending these messages from one place to another, the receiver was required to pay a heavy delivery fee to the Service Provider.

As time passed on, many practical problems started to arise. As a solution these problems the British government accepted a proposal by Sri Rowland Hill, an Englishmen, by which he proposed to change a small fee from the sender of the message.

Later British colonies and many other countries started to issue Postage Stamps there by this system spread almost throughout the world.

Our country, then known a “Ceylon” issued the first 6 penny stamp on 1st April, 1857, bearing the picture of Queen Victoria.

Sri Lankan stamps issued from the inception of Postal Service up to now, are displayed in this exhibition.

“Over – Print” of value on Postage Stamps

Instead of printing a new postage stamp, over printing the new value on the stamp by cutting off the facial value of the old stamp comes under this category. Several Victorian era stamps widened the stamp world due to this system.

Non receipt of sufficient stocks from Britain, in-adequacy of stocks which were in heavy demand, was some of the reasons for over-printing of the new value over the printed values of the relevant stamps.

Stamps in Ceylon Currency

Stamps in Ceylon Currency. In 1872 Stamps priced in Pence and Shilling,were replaced with a new series of stamps in Ceylonese Currency was introduced. Stamps with the picture depicting the head of Queen Victoria of value cent’s 02, 04, 16, 24, 32, 36, 48, 64 and 96 were printed.