Since 1897 stamp issuing nations around the World have been issuing semi-postal stamps. What are Semi-Postal stamps? Sometimes referred to as Charity Stamps, semi-postals are valid postage that actually cost more than their face value. The additional surcharge these stamps carry is used to fund a recognized charity or cause. For example, St. Vincent and the Grenadines issued semi-postal stamps in 1980 to fund hurricane relief.
The United States issued its first ever semi-postal stamp in 1998. The stamp was released to help fund breast cancer research. Many claimed this attempt to use postage to help find a cure would result in little to no gain. However, the Breast Cancer semi-postal stamp has been a huge success. It has been re-priced 4 different times since its initial release at 40 cents (8 cent surcharge). Our first semi-postal stamp has been re-issued, currently priced at 60 cents, and has had its validity of sale extended through 2019 by act of Congress.
According to the United States Postal Service, the Breast Cancer semi-postal stamps has been sold over 1 Billion times (yes, Billion with a B). And it “has raised over $82.9 Million for breast cancer research”! In other words, the cumulative surcharges alone have totaled almost 83 million dollars. Who knew a few extra pennies could make such a difference. Apparently breast cancer awareness advocate Senator Dianne Feinstein knew. This is truly one of the most amazing postage stamps in U.S. History.