Great Britain 1864 1d rose red plate 77, SG43

SKU: JP2408

Sale price£650,000
In stock


The "Legendary" 1d rose red Plate 77

Great Britain 1864 1d rose red plate 77, SG43 .

A very fine used example lettered 'PI', used in combination with a 4d bright red, SG79, both neatly tied to a small piece by London "15" numerals.

Of the three examples of the legendary plate 77 penny red remaining in private hands, this is considered the finest example.

Only nine examples of this very rare plate have been recorded. This includes four unused examples: 

  • 'AB' acquired by King George V in 1919 and still remains in the Royal Philatelic Collection today
  • 'BA' became part of the Thomas Tapling Collection which was bequeathed to the British Museum in 1891 - it is held in the British Library today
  • 'AC' sold in a Robson Lowe auction in 1959 to Major Raphael, but his collection was stolen in 1965, and the stamp has not been seen since
  • Fourth example reputed to be in the Ferrary Collection but not seen since it was sold in the 1920s

There are five known used examples:

  • 'LL' was heavily cancelled by an obliterator postmark, discovered by a Penny Red collector in 1906 and has since passed hands residing in a private collection which has not been seen since 1974
  • 'MI' was discovered by Percy Jackson in 1944 and auctioned for £220 by Robson Lowe. It has not been seen since.
  • 'PH' was discovered in 1924 and passed through several collections before being sold to H G Fletcher in 1956. His collection was bequeathed to a museum in 1989 and was transferred to the British Library where it remains today.
  • 'AA' was in the Henry J Crocker Collection (one of the Fathers of Philately) but was lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake

This example, 'PI', is the adjoining stamp to the example in the British Library and has graced some of the finest stamp collections ever formed. It was originally discovered by a Manchester stamp dealer in 1920. It was auctioned by Robson Lowe in 1959 for £900 and was last sold in 2012 by Stanley Gibbons for £550,000 (a record for a British stamp).

It is not only a magnificent exhibition piece but one of the great rarities of GB and World Philately.

Provenance: Ex. H.J. Johnson (1920), J. de R. Philip (1959), Isleham (1987), Hassan Shaida and Dr. P. Burunasombati.

Accompanied with two independent certificates of authenticity, 1920 Royal Philatelic Society and 2011 British Philatelic Association.

The Legend of Plate 77

The Plate 77 Penny Red is one of those few stamps in the world which has reached legendary status. In terms of its philatelic importance, it shares a podium with the world's most valuable stamp, the British Guiana 1856 1c magenta, which sold in 2021 at Sotheby's, New York for $8.3 million.

It is one of those stamps which captures the imagination of every new philatelist. It holds the undisputed title of Great Britain's most valuable single stamp.

Penny reds, however, are not rare at all. There are literally hundreds of thousands of them which have survived. Because of this, it has become one of those stamps which collectors dream about finding in an old collection of penny reds.

Whilst the penny black enjoys the accolade of being the stamp that changed the world, it did have one serious failing. It became apparent that the red cancellation used might be cleaned from the black stamp, allowing it to be reused. This failing was identified in the first month of issue of the penny black and trials began to find a better combination of stamp and cancellation colours. The end result was a decision to swap the colours around and introduce a red stamp with a black cancellation. 

In February 1841, nine months after the issue of the penny black, it was replaced by the Penny Red. The imperforate penny red covered the standard letter rate in Great Britain until the arrival of perforated stamps in 1854 and consequently was the stamp most used during the Victorian Communication Revolution which changed the world. During this period, both literacy and letter-writing grew at unprecedented rates. 

The Penny Red issued in 1864 with letters in all four corners was the final version produced from printing plates numbered 71 to 225. Overall, an estimated 21 billion penny reds were produced during its lifespan which ended in 1879.

Plate 77 is not like all the other printing plates. It is believed only one sheet was printed. There are official records which confirm the plate was rejected because of poor alignment, causing some stamps to be misperforated.

This sheet should have been destroyed, yet a small number clearly escaped destruction.

The legend of the elusive plate 77 makes it one of those philatelic greats and this is the only opportunity in the market to enjoy the ultimate privilege of owning it.

  • To enquire about securing the legendary plate 77, call us on +44 (0)1534 639 998, or via email

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