It was lower than one sq. inch and value only a penny nevertheless it launched a revolution in communications. Now the primary “penny black”, the postal stamp bearing a picture of Queen Victoria’s profile, is predicted to fetch up to £6m when it’s offered at auction.
The stamp was a runaway success when it went on sale in 1840, permitting individuals to ship a letter weighing up to half an oz. to any vacation spot within the nation for a flat fee of 1p. Eventually greater than 68m stamps have been offered.
The stamp to be offered by Sotheby’s in December is a pristine impression from plate 1a – the primary printed sheet – and is lettered A-1. It has been authenticated by the Royal Philatelic Society and the British Philatelic Association.
It is “unequivocally the most important piece of philatelic history to exist”, mentioned Henry House, the top of Sotheby’s treasures sale. It is “bursting with history” and represents “the very dawn of social communication … allowing people to communicate from all levels of society and business to flourish.”
Until the penny black turned legitimate on 6 May 1840, communications have been advanced and costly, with the recipient normally required to pay. Sir Rowland Hill proposed a easy pre-paid postage system utilizing a stamp.
The chosen design used a picture of Queen Victoria primarily based on a sketch of her aged 15. The similar picture remained on stamps for greater than 60 years till her demise in 1901.
The first penny again is connected to the Wallace doc, dated 10 April 1840 and named after Robert Wallace, an MP who led a fee on postal reform.
It features a proof of the Mulready stationery, pre-stamped letter sheets and envelopes that have been supplied instead to adhesive stamps. The design, displaying photos of empire, was lampooned by the general public and shortly withdrawn.
The Wallace doc was acquired 10 years in the past by Alan Holyoake, a British businessman and famend philatelist. “Isn’t the stamp beautiful?” he mentioned. “The design is a world icon, a design that our current Queen still uses.
“Prior to the introduction of cheap postage, it cost a fortune to send a letter – so unless you were privileged or wealthy, communication wasn’t really possible. Suddenly, the postage stamp just took off. It was the door to mass communication.”
Holyoake mentioned he can be unhappy to see the penny black offered however was planning to use the proceeds to construct one other assortment.