NewsOldest stamp is said to bring in millions at...

Oldest stamp is said to bring in millions at auction

The hearts of philatelists are likely to beat faster today. A well-preserved stamp from the very first British printing is going under the hammer in London. The estimated price is enormous.

London – The profile of a crowned head of a woman, white on black, plus the words “Postage” and “One Penny”: the postage stamp, which is considered to be the pioneer of the modern postal system, is quite inconspicuous. But the value of the “Penny Black” runs into the millions.

The auction house Sotheby’s has called for an estimate of four to six million British pounds (approximately 4.75 to 7.13 million euros) for auction in London today. Experience shows that such prices are quite realistic. In June, Sotheby’s auctioned a so-called British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, which has been considered the most expensive philatelic collector’s item to date, for seven million euros.

Signpost of the postage system

It cannot be ruled out that a higher amount will now be paid for the London “Penny Black”. “This is the very first postage stamp, the forerunner of all postage stamps, and undoubtedly the most significant piece of philatelic history there is,” said auction director Henry House. The “Penny Black” with the profile of Queen Victoria founded the postage system as we know it. The stamp is from the very first print. It is also imperforated and surprisingly well preserved, which also increases its value.

It is the British version of the “Black One”. The first German postage stamp, issued in the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1849, is also known to people who are not interested in philately, since “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” candidate Ralf Schnoor from Hanover once won the main prize with the answer “Black ones”.

Owner acquired the brand for 60,000 euros

The story of the “Penny Black” offers an interesting insight into the development of modern postal services. The brand symbolizes the beginning of mass communication, said the previous owner, the British philatelist and businessman Alan Holyoake. A good ten years ago he acquired the stamp together with the “Wallace Document” on which it sticks for less than 60,000 euros.

Even then there were rumors that it was a brand from the very first “Penny Black” set. But only years of research by experts from the Royal Philatelic Society and the British Philatelic Association brought certainty. There are probably only two other similarly well-preserved copies of the “Penny Black” from the first print, both in the collection of the British Postal Museum.

Robert Wallace reformed the postal system

Sotheby’s is now beating the drum for the “Wallace Document”. This is an entry in an album created by the British postal reformer and MP Robert Wallace. “First evidence of a penny postage stamp presented to Mr. Wallace by Chancellor of the Exchequer Francis Thornhill Baring – April 10, 1840,” reads the handwritten accompanying text that announced the use of the stamp on May 6 of that year.

Wallace played an instrumental role in establishing the modern postal system. Because until then, letters were still paid for by the recipient as soon as he picked them up at the post office. The fees changed often, mostly increased, especially when the government needed money. That changed with the “Penny Black”: From then on, the sender paid the postage – items with a maximum weight of 14 grams cost one penny regardless of the distance.

The black stamp was soon replaced by a red one, the “Penny Red”. Black postmarks turned out to be more secure against counterfeiting, but were naturally more difficult to recognize on black stamps. The “Penny Black” remained the pioneer. Even more than a century and a half later, their successors have still not been completely ousted by newer technologies, as Sotheby’s points out. dpa

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