The earliest known Penny Black in existence is to go on sale with a $66,500 estimate at David Feldman, as part of the General Autumn Auction Series in Geneva that runs from September 24 to October 2.
The stamp comes from the archive of Robert Wallace MP, who began the postal reforms in 1833 that led to the development of the 1d black. It was his deciding vote in 1838, as chairman of the parliamentary select committee on postage, that recommended the proposal of cheaper postage to parliament.
The 1d black is presented alongside a die-proof of the Mulready stationary - released as part of the 1840 postage reforms. The Mulready is without a value tablet and printed in black on India paper that is mounted on stout paper.
The penny black is unused, from plate 1a and lettered AI with an endorsement from Wallace: "1st Proof of Penny Postage Stamp Cover(?), presented to Mr. Wallace by the Right Honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer, Francis Thornhill Baring, April 10th 1840."
It comes from the plate completed on April 8th 1840 that was put into production on April 11 and officially registered on April 15. Due to the date and the fact that it comes from the first row of the sheet, it is entirely possible that this stamp originates from the first sheet ever printed.
The auction features a huge number of stamps in six categories, ranging from Great Britain and the Commonwealth to the Belgian Congo.
The Paul Fraser Collection offers a wide variety of stamps for sale, including rarities from across Great Britain and the Commonwealth. For more information on stamp collecting, please sign up to our free weekly newsletter.