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World’s first-ever postage stamp sells for £85,000 at Spink

Of major importance, this pair of 1840 Penny Black stamps were the star lot at Spink’s London sale

The star lot at Spink's April 15 stamp sale was a piece of laid paper affixed with two examples of the world's first-ever adhesive postage stamp: the Penny Black.

The discovery by a man named Rowland Hill that it made more financial sense to price deliveries by weight, rather than by distance and the number of sheets, led to the passage of the Penny Postage Bill in 1839.

The following year, the United Kingdom began producing the world's first-ever postage stamps. The 1d. black stamp - or Penny Black - entered circulation on May 6, 1840, and remained in use for little over a year.

The horizontally paired stamps, lettered GI-GJ (marking their designated position on the printed stamp sheet) are considered the finest of all the known examples of their cancellation trial - including those consigned by collector RM Philips to the National Postal Museum.

The pair of Penny Blacks, sold for £85,000

GI is hand-stamped by a superb clear strike of the red Maltese Cross. Its twin, GJ, is stamped by a very fine clear strike of the black London cancellation trial "T/MY - 13/1840" circular date stamp.

Above the stamps the laid paper bears the inscriptions "Obliterating stamp" and "dated stamp in ink" to confirm their respective cancellations.

Rightly billed as being "of major importance and worthy of the greatest Exhibit" by Spink, this Penny Black 1d. black Plate Ia pair realised an incredible £85,000 final hammer price.

The sale was undoubtedly a great day for the lucky winning bidder.

A "cousin" of the Penny Black, the Penny Orange which was issued in Mauritius in 1847, was previously sold by the legendary Philatelist Hiroyuki Kanai in 1993 for over $1m.


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Images: Spink

Last updated: 16 April 2010