"My Victor Kiam moment"


I first got the chance to invest in stamp dealers Stanley Gibbons in 1989.

I've been fascinated by stamps since childhood, so when the opportunity arose to buy shares in the world's oldest stamp dealers, I jumped at the chance.

Who would turn down the chance to be involved with the company that was awarded a Royal Warrant by none other than King George V in 1914?

However, I knew little of the rich history and depth behind philately that drives collectors. The phrase "thrown in at the deep end" springs to mind, but soon, I was truly hooked on philately.

By the mid-90s, I had increased my investment in the company considerably, thanks to my friend and famous collector Sir Ron Brierley.

If you're a stamp collector, you'll no doubt have heard his name. He's the owner of one of the finest collections of Australian stamps ever assembled, and a respected New Zealand investor.

It seems that investors are naturally attracted to the strong returns that stamps offer.

Before long, much like Victor Kiam, "I loved it so much I bought the company", and found myself the proud owner of a 150-year-old company, rubbing shoulders with the likes of bond king Bill Gross, and investment guru Steve Sjuggerud.

Perhaps even more exciting was the fact that the Royal Warrant was now in my hands. I was given the chance to meet Royalty via my new links to the Royal Philatelic Collection.

I can tell you from experience, the Royal Collection is as breathtaking as you might imagine.

As I travelled the world visiting top stamp exhibitions, viewing Grand Prix-winning collections and selling items to some of the top collectors, my knowledge of the world's stamps grew.

Yet however exotic the design, however rare the item, however rich the history, I always found myself drawn back to the story of one man….

William Mulready.

Pax Britannica

1840. Britain is in the midst its greatest age - the "imperial century".

The newly crowned Queen Victoria has just married the elaborately titled Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

As the foundations of Nelson's Column are laid and Trafalgar Square begins to be paved, the empire reaches its farthest extent.

With Napoleon defeated, Britain's rule over Europe becomes known as Pax Britannica, or "the British Peace". Victoria's empire will play the central role in policing the globe for the coming decades.

The steamship and the telegraph has connected 10,000,000 square miles of territory, and 400,000,000 new inhabitants now live under the protection of the empire.

Communication is vital in maintaining control over such a vast dominion. Yet while the industrial revolution had brought many new inventions, Britain's greatest tool had yet to arrive.

Rowland Hill's vision

One man had a vision to transform Britain's antiquated postal system. An English teacher, inventor and social reformer, that man was none other than Rowland Hill - a revered name in philately today.

His creation, the world-famous Penny Black - the first adhesive postage stamp in history - along with its two-penny partner, saw great success when issued on May 6, 1840.

An idea never seen before, the postage stamp revolutionised Britain's postal system, allowing for a uniform postal rate that spanned the empire.

Yet Rowland Hill had an idea he was sure would prove even more popular than his tiny squares of sticky paper: a ready-made envelope or lettersheet decorated to show that postage had been prepaid.

This would be the showpiece of his postal reforms, cementing the name Rowland Hill in the pages of history, along with his other myriad achievements.

For the design, he commissioned one of the country's most popular painters, William Mulready.

A member of the Royal Academy, and awarded the French Legion d'honneur for his service to art, Mulready's work encapsulated the Victorian spirit.

His design would showcase Britain at the height of her powers; a sumptuous piece of Victoriana.

Mulready

Embodied as Britannia, complete with her shield and lion at her feet, Britain bestows the gift of postage onto her territories in North America and Asia, symbolised by exotic scenes of pilgrims and elephants.

Below, the excited recipients pour over their mail, an event that would become daily routine as access to postal services were made available to all.

Hated so much all stock was withdrawn...

However, issued on May 6, 1840, the "Mulreadys" were not met with the success of the now-famous Penny Black, and many questioned the motivation behind them.

Of course, there are always a few naysayers when any big change comes into place, but the Mulready stationary's opposition was venomous...

The design was too elaborate for the public, who saw the vignette as having inflated sense of importance. But it was purposefully complicated, in an attempt to avoid forgery.

Conspiracy theorists complained that the envelopes were a government plot to control supplies of stationary in the UK, and therefore the flow of information distributed by the now-nationalised service.

Fuelling these rumours were existing stationary companies, who supposed their livelihoods faced extinction should the Mulready stationary take off. Before long, the sumptuous creation was subjected to ridicule in caricatures that filled the pages of national newspapers.

Just a few days after being issued, the reputation of the Mulready stationary lay in tatters.

Rowland Hill was understandably miffed. On May 12, he wrote in his diary:

"I fear we shall have to substitute some other stamp for that design by Mulready...the public have shown their disregard and even distaste for beauty."

Just two months later, in a public display to quell the uproar, all of the stationary was withdrawn from sale and a special machine was designed to destroy the existing stocks.

However, in those two months, the idea of the pre-gummed envelope had been born and the diamond-shaped sheet of the Mulready envelopes remains essentially the same today.

One of the finest Mulready's known

There were a few who took to the Mulready envelopes with vigour, such as Dr George Webster, founder of the first British Medical Association, and his associates.

Dr Webster was a prominent member of society in London's thriving Dulwich, which at the time was a popular haunt for luminaries such as Charles Dickens, a regular at The Greyhound pub.

Today, Webster is remembered by a memorial fountain in the centre of the village. Philatelists know him from this extraordinary item...

1840 2d Mulready Envelope (Forme 1, Stereo a202)

1840 2d Mulready Envelope

This remarkable Mulready two pence envelope was sent to the illustrious Webster on August 19, 1841 - well over a year after the Mulready envelopes had been withdrawn and destroyed.

Even the popular Penny Black had been replaced by this time, with the Penny Red brought in on February 10, 1841.

A very special item...

Four superb 1840 1d Penny Blacks from Plate 8 adorn the cover. Each beautifully cancelled with a crisp example of the famous Maltese Cross, they were added to up-rate the envelope to the 6d per 3oz postal rate.

The cover marks one of just two recorded 6d frankings prepaid with four additional Penny Blacks. As testament to its importance, it has graced two of the world's top collections of Mulready stationary, that of E E Yates and the award-winning Mayflower Collection.

Consider:

  → The rarity of a philatelic item that was met with instant distaste and was withdrawn after just two months of issue - not many were used, and existing stocks were destroyed.

  → The cost of owning a Mulready envelope at two pence, which equates to around two weeks wages for the average worker at the time - plus the cost of four extra Penny Blacks

  → The chances of one of the Mulready envelopes being preserved in outstanding condition, with little more than light toning after 174 years in existence - and with outstanding provenance too.

I can't emphasise the significance of this philatelic gem enough. Items like this don't appear every day and are always in strong demand - I'm very excited to be able to offer it to you today.

This extraordinary Mulready can be yours for £125,000 ($200,000) - call +44 (0)117 933 9500 or email info@paulfrasercollectibles.com now.

In detail

  → 1840 2d Mulready Envelope (Forme 1, Stereo a202)

  → Sent from London to Dulwich with "T.P./Chief Office" handstamp and "AU.19.1841" CDS

  → 4 1840 1d Penny Black stamps from Plate 8 lettered QA, SE, SG & SJ (SE & SG State 2 provisional printing)

  → 5 crisp examples of the Maltese Cross cancellation

  → One of only two known 6d to 3oz frankings prepaid with four additional Penny Blacks

+44 (0)117 933 9500 or info@paulfrasercollectibles.com

Provenance

This museum-grade philatelic item has graced some of the world's most respected collections:

E E Yates

The cover was first sold at the now-legendary sale of the E E Yates Collection of Mulready and Associated Pictorial Envelopes, held on February 9, 1949 through Robson Lowe.

A landmark in British philately, this auction saw some of the greatest Mulready items cross the block and is still widely discussed today. The illustrated catalogue is a heavily used reference source for collectors.

The Mayflower Collection

The Mayflower Collection is widely regarded as the finest collection of Mulready letter sheets and envelopes ever assembled, featuring the best surviving examples.

At the 2010 London Festival of Stamps, it was awarded a mark of 98 out of 100, with only the Mayflower Collection of 1d Blacks and 2d Blues beating it to the Grand Prix prize.

New to the market, this item has been described and authenticated by the experts at Stanley Gibbons.

This is your chance to add your name to that list of famous collectors, each of whom have had the pleasure of owning this Mulready 2d envelope - one of only two surviving examples.

Lifetime Money-back Guarantee of Authenticity

We are so confident in the impeccable provenance of all our items that we offer a Lifetime Money-back Guarantee of Authenticity.

Simply put, you won't have any cause to question the authenticity of the Mulready - two of the world's leading collections of Mulready stationary and the oldest stamp dealers in the world can't be wrong!

Investing

This item is the very definition of "investment grade".

Iconic, rare and in outstanding condition, it meets all the requirements of a solid piece with the potential to earn strong returns - a true "blue chip" item.

A showpiece, it is at home at the centre of any portfolio. As a tool for diversification, it has low correlation to any other market and offers an enjoyable and potentially profitable way to store your wealth.

What's more, we also provide free delivery or free professional storage, making your investment hassle-free!

Call +44 (0)117 933 9500 or email info@paulfrasercollectibles.com to discuss your options

Thanks for reading,

Paul

Paul Fraser

P.S As I mentioned, this Mulready envelope will make a stunning centrepiece for your investment portfolio. This could be the beginning of a winning portfolio - see our hand-selected stock of rare stamps or talk to one of our directors. +44 (0)117 933 9500.


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Paul Fraser Collectibles is owned and published by Tika Lifestyles Ltd trading as www.paulfrasercollectibles.com, of Bristol, UK. Readers are advised that this electronic publication is issued solely for information purposes. The views expressed herein are based upon our analysis of information collected around the world, and assumes both their accuracy and completeness. The opinions and statements included herein are based on sources (including the companies discussed and public sources) believed to be reliable and in good faith, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to their accuracy, completeness or correctness. We have not independently verified the information contained herein. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. We encourage you to consult with independent financial advisors with respect to any investment in the items mentioned herein. All information contained in Paul Fraser Collectibles should be independently verified. The foregoing discussion contains statements which are based on current expectations, estimates and projections, and differences from such expectations, estimates and projections can be expected. The information contained in this newsletter is not intended to be a complete discussion of information regarding all of the current and/or intended Collectible areas covered. Any opinions expressed in Paul Fraser Collectibles are statements of judgement as of the date of publication, are subject to change without further notice, and may not necessarily be reprinted in future publications or elsewhere.

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