First penny black stamp could fetch up to £6m at auction

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It was little than 1 quadrate inch and outgo conscionable a penny but it launched a gyration successful communications. Now the archetypal “penny black”, the postal stamp bearing an representation of Queen Victoria’s profile, is expected to fetch up to £6m erstwhile it is sold astatine auction.

The stamp was a runaway occurrence erstwhile it went connected merchantability successful 1840, allowing radical to nonstop a missive weighing up to fractional an ounce to immoderate destination successful the state for a level complaint of 1p. Eventually much than 68m stamps were sold.

The stamp to beryllium sold by Sotheby’s successful December is simply a pristine content from sheet 1a – the archetypal printed expanse – and is lettered A-1. It has been authenticated by the Royal Philatelic Society and the British Philatelic Association.

It is “unequivocally the astir important portion of philatelic past to exist”, said Henry House, the caput of Sotheby’s treasures sale. It is “bursting with history” and represents “the precise dawn of societal connection … allowing radical to pass from each levels of nine and concern to flourish.”

Until the penny achromatic became valid connected 6 May 1840, communications were analyzable and expensive, with the recipient usually required to pay. Sir Rowland Hill projected a elemental pre-paid postage strategy utilizing a stamp.

The chosen plan utilized an representation of Queen Victoria based connected a sketch of her aged 15. The aforesaid representation remained connected stamps for much than 60 years until her decease successful 1901.

The archetypal penny backmost is attached to the Wallace document, dated 10 April 1840 and named aft Robert Wallace, an MP who led a committee connected postal reform.

It includes a impervious of the Mulready stationery, pre-stamped missive sheets and envelopes that were offered arsenic an alternate to adhesive stamps. The design, showing images of empire, was lampooned by the nationalist and rapidly withdrawn.

The Wallace papers was acquired 10 years agone by Alan Holyoake, a British businessman and renowned philatelist. “Isn’t the stamp beautiful?” helium said. “The plan is simply a satellite icon, a plan that our existent Queen inactive uses.

“Prior to the instauration of inexpensive postage, it outgo a luck to nonstop a missive – truthful unless you were privileged oregon wealthy, connection wasn’t truly possible. Suddenly, the postage stamp conscionable took off. It was the doorway to wide communication.”

Holyoake said helium would beryllium bittersweet to spot the penny achromatic sold but was readying to usage the proceeds to physique different collection.