The world’s first postage stamp, which is considered one of the most important pieces of philatelic history, goes for auction at Sotheby’s.
The Penny Black, the very first securely dated postage stamp, is expected to fetch between £4 million and £6 million, when sold as part of Sotheby’s Treasures collection in December. The unused stamp, which revolutionised communication, is part of a document dating from 1840 from the archive of British postal reformer Robert Wallace.
It is from plate 1a, the first printed sheet, and is lettered A-I. It’s on handmade watermarked paper with gum pasted at the back and contains a miniature image of the youthful Queen Victoria’s head in profile, with the words Postage One Penny. The stamp’s identification began over ten years ago, when British businessman and philatelist Alan Holyoake acquired The Wallace Document, to which the stamp is linked.
Head of the Treasures sale at Sotheby’s, Henry House said: ‘This is an extraordinary opportunity for a collector to acquire an object which dates back to history; an object that is the earliest known of an iconic design; an object produced by the highest levels of technical excellence; and an object that is the progenitor of mass and global communication.’