Penfold Letter Box and Trivia

Stamp and Letter Box Trivia

As evident from the following questions, stamps tell a story about our history. There is significant attention to their selection,and design, beyond the humble role of marking the payment for delivery of our mail. Since 1957, there has been a Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee that evaluates potential subjects for U.S. postage stamps and gives recommendations to the Postmaster General. The 25-30 new stamp subjects each year are chosen from thousands of letters and petitions from the public. On the Wikipedia site for this subject you can learn the selection guidelines in case you want to recommend a significant historical event or personality in the future.

In addition to the multiple choice questions about stamps, there are two True or False statements about Penfold Letter Boxes, a distinctly British mail receptacle.

After the questions below, we provide a response sheet for you to check your responses and share the trivia with others. Enjoy!

Who were the first two Americans feature on a USA stamp?

Select two responses

    • Ben Franklin

    • Abraham Lincoln

    • George Washington

    • Alexander Hamilton

Who was the first American woman featured on a US Stamp?

    • Susan B. Anthony

    • Betsy Ross

    • Martha Washington

    • Eleanor Roosevelt

Who was the first African American to appear on a U.S. stamp?

    • Frederick Douglass

    • Booker T. Washington

    • Martin Luther King, Jr.

    • Langston Hughes

In 1934 the Post Office Department issued a stamp celebrating the mothers of America. Whose mother is pictured on the stamp?

  • Julia Ward Howe

  • Thomas Edison

  • Norman Rockwell

  • James Whistler

When and where was the first Penny Black postage stamp first used? Select two responses

    • 1776

    • 1840

    • United States

    • Great Britain

What country is the only one not required to list its name on postage stamps?

  • Canada

  • Japan

  • Great Britain

  • Kenya

What country uses the name Helvetia on its stamps?

  • Switzerland

  • Greece

  • Sweden

  • Columbia

What is the current cost to send mail in the USA?

  • 58 cents for a letter and 40 cents for a postcard

  • 20 cents for an additional ounce of weight

  • $1.30 for an international letter

  • All of the above

True or False? Each Letter Box has a separate key so British postal workers must carry a multitude of keys to enable them to open the boxes to collect the


True or False? London Zoo has a pillar box painted in zebra stripes for visitors to use to make donations to the zoo.

Trivia Answers:

  • The first two Americans featured on a USA stamp were Benjamin Franklin (our first Postmaster General) and George Washington.

  • The first American woman to be featured on a USA stamp was Martha Washington.

  • The first African American to appear on a USA stamp was Booker T. Washington

  • In 1934, the US. Post Office Department issued a stamp celebrating mothers of America and James Whistler’s mother was pictured on the stamp.

  • The first stamp ever, The Penny Black postage stamp was issued in Great Britain in 1840. Before this time, the mail recipient paid the cost of delivery.

  • Because the first stamp was issued in Great Britain, it is the only country in the world not required to list its name on postage stamps.

  • Switzerland uses the name Helvetia to identify their country.

  • The current costs for First Class mail are: 58 cents for a letter, 40 cents for a postcard, 20 cents for an additional ounce and $1.30 to send an international letter.

True and False Questions:

  • British postal workers do carry many keys, to open each of the letter boxes on their route.

  • A replica of the pillar box is painted with zebra stripes at the London Zoo where donations are welcome.

Thank you to Henry Lukas of the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History in Weston, MA for providing the subjects of our trivia questions.