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World’s First Postage Stamp Could Fetch Millions Of Dollars At Auction
By Alexa Heah, 27 Oct 2021
Image via General Post Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland / Wikimedia Commons
The world’s first-ever postage stamp, The Penny Black, will be heading to auction at Sotheby’s London in December, and is expected to fetch over US$8 million.
Ultra-rare, the collectible features a profile of Queen Victoria, and is attached to a document dating back to April 10, 1840, as part of a former Scottish politician’s archive. It’s believed to be one of only three stamps left from the first printing, with the other two copies sitting in the reserves of the British Postal Museum.
This batch of stamps went into circulation on May 6 that year, and was the first stamp to introduce a flat rate. It currently is part of philatelist Alan Holyoake’s trove, with the collector calling it “a world icon.” He had purchased the Wallace Document over a decade ago for a little less than US$70,000.
According to ABC, it took over three years for Holyoake to determine the stamp was indeed part of the world’s first set, eventually receiving authentication from The Royal Philatelic Society in London and The British Philatelic Association.
Previously, a British Guiana One-Cent Magenta had gone under the hammer for an incredible US$8.3 million, and Holyoake posits that his stamp could sell for even more.
“The value that’s being put at the moment for the auction of the Wallace Document is in sterling between four and six million [pounds] (US$5,500,000 to US$8,300,000).”
“I would be disappointed if it doesn’t make far more than that because, unlike the One Cent Guianan, it is a stamp. Most people don’t even know where Guyana is, whereas here you have a world icon, and I would submit already that that doesn’t happen every day,” Holyoake said.
In addition to The Penny Black, the new owner of the Wallace Document will receive proof of Mulready Stationery, an official envelope that allowed residents to pre-pay postage back in the day.
Holyoake said he hopes the winning bidder will fully appreciate the historical importance of the sale. He remarked: “I do hope that someone who buys it actually understands its importance as being a world icon.”
“A world icon, not as a stamp, but a world icon as being an important first when it comes to social history and communication.”
[via ABC, cover image via General Post Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland / Wikimedia Commons]
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