Well known philatelist Ken Lawrence posts on the Abbey Newsletter webpage, "When pressure-sensitive adhesive made its first appearance on postage stamps in the 1960s, most stamp collectors regarded it as a gimmick. These stamps represented a radical departure from traditional lick-and-stick stamps that had employed water-activated adhesive since 1840."
He goes on to say, "The United States was not the first country to put pressure-sensitive gum on stamps. For the first three countries to issue self-stick stamps—Sierra Leone in 1964, Tonga in 1969, and Bhutan in 1969—an alternative to water-activated gum was practical. All three countries have humid climates, in which old style gum has a tendency to get messy when days and nights are damp for extended periods of time."
According to Lawrence, "In 1996, a U.S. Postal Service authority was quoted as having predicted that the adhesive on self-stick stamps "is likely to turn to powder as it ages," perhaps in 80 to 150 years. Interviewed for this report, the official stated he had been misquoted, and had merely speculated that this transformation might occur, but that no tests had verified it."
Shown above, first U.S. self adhesive postage stamp issued in 1974.
To read the entire report, click here.
To learn how to remove self adhesives from paper, click here.