MENTION the Penny Black stamp and many people immediately think big money. The world’s first adhesive postage stamp was only issued for a year from 1840, but during that year 69 million stamps were printed – so it is not as rare as many people think.
Used examples of the stamp have survived in large numbers and can be purchased for little money, though unused ‘mint’ stamps are much rarer, making them worth a lot more.
And even more valuable are unused stamps still joined together, called multiples. The Penny Black was issued without the perforations seen on stamps today, so when the stamp was bought the Post Office employee would simply cut, or in some cases just tear, the stamp from a sheet.
Examples of two or more stamps still joined are highly prized by collectors and attract a premium price. Larger multiples are very scarce and attract huge prices.
So there are going to be many excited collectors when a rare mint strip of eight Penny Blacks is auctioned in Warwick on Wednesday (April 8). They are estimated at £12,000, as is a strip of six Penny Blacks.
Even more rare is a set of Penny Black stamps issued only for official use by the likes of government departments. A pair will go under the hammer with an estimate of £18,000, and a block of four with a £20,000 estimate.
A spokesman for town auctioneers Warwick & Warwick said: “The stamp collection had been held in the same family for generations and the family members who brought the stamps to us had little idea of their true value.
“The collection includes a further mint strip of six Penny Blacks, smaller multiples and single stamps, a treasure trove of philatelic material.”
Visit www.warwickandwarwick.com for further details.