On Wednesday 26th December 2007, the world’s first stamp made entirely from cork was issued in Portugal. Designed by the Portuguese engraver Joao Machado, it is made from wafer-thin “paper cork”, a thickness of just 0.35mm, and is the first in a print run of 230,000. Every stamp is unique due to the cellular nature of cork.

The stamp has a face-value of one euro and depicts a cork-tree on a hill. It was unveiled at an official ceremony at the Lisbon parliament.

Portugal is the world’s biggest producer of cork, with 737,000 hectares of cork-trees – 32.5% of the global total. According to Antonio Amorim, the chairperson of the Portuguese Cork Producers Association, the sector has had to diversify due to competition from plastic and metal caps. The cork industry is currently developing in the areas of “building materials (cladding, insulation) and state-of-the-art sectors such as aeronautics, thanks to its qualities of lightness, impermeability and elasticity, and its green credentials (renewable, biodegradable and recyclable), he added.