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  • Posts Tagged ‘Penny Black’


    Friday, January 12th, 2024

    The earliest posted envelope using a prepaid stamp comes up at Sotheby’s in New York on February 2. The Penny Black fixed to a Mulready envelope is estimated at $1.5-$2.5 million.

    Introduced at the beginning of May, 1840, the Mulready, an ornate wrapper designed by William Mulready, and
    the Penny Black, the world’s first adhesive postage stamp, aimed to streamline and revolutionize postage
    prepayment. Both methods were an important new step in communication, eliminating the need fol carriers
    to handle money, reducing the risk of theft and forgery. This pre-paid envelope, the earliest known in existence,
    was successfully sent, firstly stamped with a Penny Black on May 2, then ingeniously repurposed, turned inside
    out, and remailed as a Mulready on May 4, the letter covered a combined journey of over 400 miles, all before
    the official start date for the stamp on May 6.

    Before the introduction of postage stamps, mail in the United Kingdom was paid for by the recipient, a system
    that was associated with an irresolvable problem: the costs of delivering mail were not recoverable by the
    postal service when recipients were unable or unwilling to pay for delivered items. The adoption of prepayment, championed by Birmingham School teacher Rowland Hill, was a result of the Postage Reform Act of 1839, which abolished free franking privileges and established uniform penny postage rates. The subsequent Treasury Competition, offering a prize for the best prepayment solution, garnered over 2,600 entries, leading to the creation of new stationery and stamps. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

    The first Penny Black postage stamp comes up at Sotheby’s Treasures sale in London on December 7. The world’s first postage stamp is part of a unique document from the archive of British postal reformer Robert Wallace. It is dated April 10, 1840 and estimated at £4-£6 million.

    This small Penny Black – a pristine impression, unused, and from plate 1a (the very first printed sheet) and lettered A-I – represents the birth of a device that would be central to the birth of mass communications across the globe for more than a century and a half and that still has not been completely supplanted by newer technologies. Rediscovered nearly three decades ago but not fully recognised until much more recently, the stamp’s identification began when British businessman and philatelist Alan Holyoake came into the possession of The Wallace Document, to which the stamp is attached, almost ten years ago. Holyoake was to instigate a three-year research project – which culminated with the document being issued with certificates of authenticity from The Royal Philatelic Society, London (2016) and The British Philatelic Association (2015), and its subsequent exhibition at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington DC.

    ‘The Wallace Document’, which will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s, is considered the most important piece of philatelic history in the world. It is from a now dispersed personal scrap-album assembled by MP Robert Wallace, and brings together two highly important philatelic artefacts: the Penny Black and a proof of the ‘Mulready Stationery’ that had been commissioned by the government as an alternative means to prepay postage. Both were given to him in thanks by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Francis Baring, for everything that Wallace had done to overhaul the postal system and bring these innovations to fruition.