24 February 1854

The Penny Red, the first postage stamp is officially issued for distribution.

The Penny Red was a British postage stamp, issued in 1841. It succeeded the Penny Black and continued as the main type of postage stamp in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1879, with only minor changes to the design during that time. The colour was changed from black to red because of difficulty in seeing a cancellation mark on the Penny Black; a black cancel was readily visible on a Penny Red.

Initially, some of the same plates that were used to print the Penny Black were used to print the Penny Red and about 21 billion Penny Reds were printed by Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co. Initially, the stamp had no perforations, and had to be cut from the sheet using scissors in the same manner as for the Penny Black and the early printings of the Two pence blue. Perforations, first came into use in 1850 and were officially adopted in 1854. The experimental issue can be distinguished from the general issue as the later was applied to stamp which used a different alphabet type for the letters in the lower corners. Each stamp has unique corner letters AA, AB, AC … AL etc., so its position on the plate can be identified.

In January 1855, the perforation size was changed from 16 to 14 as it was found that the sheets were coming apart too easily. The reduced size allowed the sheets to remain intact until pressure was applied to force the separation.

The stamps were printed in sheets of 240, so one row cost 1 shilling and a complete sheet one pound. This 240 stamps per sheet configuration continued with all British postage stamps issued until 1971 when decimal currency was introduced when the sheet size was changed to 200, making the lowest value denomination one pound per sheet.