The forerunner of the postage stamp in the United States was the hand-stamp marks of various descriptions placed upon the letters to show the amount of the postage together with the word "Paid," "Due" or "Collect" to indicate whether the postage had been prepaid or was to be collected upon delivery. The hand-stamp dated postmark was of much earlier origin than that of the adhesive stamp, and prior to all hand-stamps we find the endorsements in ink upon letters, of the place, date of mailing, amount of postage and a word to indicate whether the postage had been prepaid or was to be collected. The introduction of the use of the adhesive postage stamp in Great Britain in 1840 was followed by agitation in the United States Congress looking toward the introduction of cheap postage and the issuing of postage stamps in this country.
The proposed reform met with opposition, as all reforms do, and it was some years before much was acomplished.
The local express and messenger companies first introduced the use of adhesive postage stamps in the prepayment of mail matter in the United States.