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US stamps: Is US Stamps Price Equal To Value (update in 2022)

US civil war stamps

US stamps: Is US Stamps Price Equal To Value (update in 2022)

Is price equal to value? This question has been asked many times, but people keep asking it. There are so many posts on the internet that teach you how to shop smart, I’m sure you’ve read at least one of them. Most of these questions are about specific products or paid courses. Today, however, I want to talk about the value and price of US stamps.

What determines the price of US stamps?

To you, this seems nonsensical: Which supplier can set the price of US stamps? The price of US stamps is determined by the distance and weight of the shipment, and we simply cannot choose the price. I agree with you completely, but I would like to talk about the price fluctuations on US stamps, and we can figure out together if it makes sense.

Well, do you know how much a US stamp costs now?

Take the cost of First-Class stamps as an example:

Letter Stamps
Standard size rectangular envelopes from $ 0.6

Postcard stamps
Standard size rectangular postcards from $0.44

Global Forever Stamps
Rectangular standard size envelopes from $1.4

And do you know how much a U.S. postage stamp cost 159 years ago? According to the USPS’s Rated for Domestic Letters Since 1863 on July 1, 1863, $0.03 per ½ ounce, or $0.06 per ounce. From $0.06 to $0.60, that’s a really big difference.

You may be wondering what is causing the large fluctuations in the price of US stamps and what will happen to the price of US stamps in the future. With these 2 questions are floating around in our heads, let us explore the answer together and see what we will find.”Dramatic price fluctuations” in US postage stamps from 1863 to 2022.

War caused ‘drastic price swings’ for US stamps

Looking back into the history of the late 19th century in the United States, we can grasp the keyword – freedom.

One of the most important events of the 19th century in the United States is the American Civil War, which lasted for four years from 1861 to 1865. It was fought between the North and the South to decide whether slavery should be allowed or prevented from expanding into the western territories.

As we all know, at the end of the war, slavery was abolished and four million enslaved blacks were free. They gain their freedom. You may ask, what does the price have to do with the war? I am just interested in why the price of US stamps was so low in 1863, why are you telling me all these historical things?

Good question, I hope you have not forgotten what the US stamps are for, they are for sending letters, postcards, etc. With this reminder, we can easily understand the connection between the war and US stamps. During the war, there is fear, separation from loved ones, difficulties, and reminiscences. How can people express all this in a time when there were no cell phones and computers? How can people connect in such a time when war and fighting are everywhere? Sending letters was the only method they could rely on.



Salary is also one of the factors that affect the price of stamps

Let us look at the relationship between US stamps and wages so we can develop a basic understanding of the purchasing power of a US stamp.

According to Wages and Earnings in the United States, 1860-1890, the average annual earnings in 1860 were $297 according to the census. Calculating the stamp price as a percentage of annual wages yields a value of about 0.02% ($0.06/$297).

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the median annual wage was $34,248.45. Domestic letter rates since 1863 indicate that the U.S. postage rate was $0.55 on January 27, 2019, which is approximately 0.0016%.

It appears that the price of US stamps is much lower than the price in 1863. To verify that the price is relatively lower than in 1863, if we use the CPI inflation calculator to calculate the price (the dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.01% per year between 1863 and today, giving a cumulative price of 2251.40%), $0.06 in 1863 actually corresponds to a purchasing power of about $1.41 today, which is $0.81 higher than the current price of US stamps.

Thus, it can be seen that today’s price has dropped dramatically compared to the price in 1863.

I think we have already learned the reasons for this. First, the means of communication in 1863 were not as advanced as they are today. Letters were the most common form of communication. People have no choice but to use them. Second, there is a great need for the transmission of information for historical reasons, such as war. Compared to memory, the cost did not play such a big role.

Today, however, we have all kinds of communication channels, and you can talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time. If the price of stamps remains high, people will tend to use other methods. But we have to admit that letter writing is a rare way of communication nowadays.

Accordingly, although there is still a great need for the transmission of information, the Internet is a faster and more secure way of communication. So it’s not hard to understand why the USPS is pursuing innovation in the Postal Service. For example, in 2007, the US Forever Stamp was introduced to provide people with more convenience. Knowing the basic logic of price, our next question is easier to guess.

How will the price develop in the future?

Well, the trend is that prices will change with inflation. But the purchase value of US stamps will remain relatively stable.

From the historical prices of US stamps and the analysis of the Consumer Price Index on Wikipedia, it appears that despite the nominal increase in the cost of a first-class stamp, the adjusted cost of a stamp has remained stable.

Returning to our original topic of price and value, the relationship between the price and value of US stamps. In my opinion, they are historically equivalent. The value and price of US stamps also reflect the history of the nation. So what is your opinion?



[1] Wikipedia – History of United Stated postage rates

[2] Wikipedia – American Civil War

[3] Rates for Domestic Letters Since 1863

[4] CPI Inflation Calculator

[5] Cost of First-Class Stamps

[6] Wages and Earnings in the United States, 1860-1890, page 48

[7] What is the Average American Income in 2022

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