Before the use of adhesive paper stamps, letters were hand stamped or postmarked with ink. Postmarks were the invention of Henry Bishop and were at first called 'Bishop mark' after the inventor. Bishop marks were first used in 1661 at the London General Post Office. They marked the day and month the letter was mailed.
The First Modern Postage Stamp - Penny Black
The first issued postage stamp began with Great Britain's Penny Post. On May 6, 1840, the British Penny Black stamp was released. The Penny Black was engraved the profile of Queen Victoria's head, who remained on all British stamps for the next sixty years. Rowland Hill created the first stamp.
Rowland Hill Invents Adhesive Postage Stamps
A schoolmaster from England, Rowland Hill invented the adhesive postage stamp in 1837, an act for which he was knighted. Through his efforts the first stamp in the world was issued in England in 1840. Roland Hill also created the first uniform postage rates that were based on weight rather than size. Hill's stamps made the prepayment of mail postage possible and practical.