One of the first postage stamps ever printed goes on sale, and potential buyers are expected to spend up to $ 11 million.
- The Penny Black was the first postage stamp produced
- Sotheby’s will auction one of the stamps printed on the original sheet
- The stamp was originally in the possession of Britain’s leading postal reformer, Robert Wallace.
The Penny Black was the world’s first stamp and one of the first printed sheets will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London on December 7.
The adhesive stamp which features a profile of Queen Victoria is attached to a document dated April 10, 1840, from the archives of British Postal Service reformer Robert Wallace, a Scottish politician.
The Penny Black, which introduced a flat rate, was used from May 6, 1840.
Before that, the recipient paid the postage.
It is believed that there are only two other examples of perfect, unadulterated Penny Blacks from the first impression, both in the collection of the British Postal Museum.
The Wallace stamp and document are owned by philatelist and businessman Alan Holyoake.
As one of the world’s greatest stamp collectors, he saw many rare items in his day.
But for Mr. Holyoake, this one is exceptionally special.
âIt’s a global icon. It’s a global icon because it’s actually the very first stamp,â he said.
“So this is a stamp that comes from the very first sheet of stamps that was printed.”
Mr. Holyoake bought the Wallace Document 10 years ago for less than 50,000 pounds ($ 92,000).
At the time, rumors were circulating that the stamp was one of the first Penny Blacks ever to be printed.
It took three years of research to prove this to be true and get official authentication from the Royal Philatelic Society of London and the British Philatelic Association.
This certification dramatically increased its value and a recent stamp sale fueled Mr. Holyoake’s hopes that the Wallace document would fetch a record price.
Earlier this year, Sotheby’s auctioned off a magenta one cent from British Guiana for $ 8.3 million ($ 11 million) and Mr Holyoake believes his stamp is worth even more.
“The value that is currently being put up for the Wallace Document auction is in pounds sterling between four and six million [pounds] ($ 7-11 million), “he said.
âI would be disappointed if it didn’t do much more than that because, unlike the One Cent Guyanan, it is a stamp.
“Most people don’t even know where Guyana is, although here you have a global icon, and I would already say that doesn’t happen every day.”
The Wallace document also contains proof of the Mulready Stationary – an official printed envelope designed to be the primary method of prepayment for postage, with the Penny Black stamp as a top-up option for excess postage.
Mr Holyoake said he hopes whoever purchases the Wallace document appreciates its historical significance.
âI hope someone who buys it really understands its importance as a global icon,â he said.
“A global icon, not as a stamp, but a global icon as an important first in social history and communication.”
AP / Reuters