CLASSIC STAMPS: USAIn 1847 Congress authorized the first United States postage stamps. The first general issue of postage stamps went on sale in New York City, July 1, 1847. One priced at five cents, depicted Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and a ten cent stamp showing the portrait of George Washington (1732-1799). The stamps were designed by James P. Major, printed by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch and Edson and the portraits were engraved by Asher B. Durand. Todays stamp is the five cent stamp showing Benjamin Franklin.