"Penny Black”

It was released in London on May 6, 1840. Its nominal was 1 pence, its colour was black. The stamp was named according to its color and size.

In 1840 no one could suppose that the stamp issued in great quantities - 68 million copies (its total was 286,700 printed sheets with 68,808,000 stamps) would become legendary. Many of the stamps (only a few percent) have reached our days, because the envelopes at that time were not common: senders stuck stamps directly on the folded and sealed letter. If the recipient did not throw a letter, the stamp remained.

Part sheet of 216 stamps was accidentally discovered in the archives of Sir Rowland Hill, who is considered to invent stamps. Now this unique block is stored in the British Royal Collection. Only occasionally it is shown at international and worldwide philatelic exhibitions.

A complete list of "Black penny" consists of 240 marks, 20 horizontal rows of 12 stamps in a line, which is worth one pound - a very large sum for that time. Perhaps the price kept buyers away from its acquisition. How miraculously survived almost the full list is anyone's guess: it was found stuck on the wall of a post office. Despite all the precautions in the office, it was impossible to keep the original glue.

Penny Black Stamp

Some design ideas...

An interview with "Perkins, Bacon & Petch," printers has been preserved. A few days before the official release of "Penny Black" in the sale, they complained to a local newspaper: "For five days we have been applying the glue layer on the stamp, and the difficulties that we have encountered, defy description”. The main component was the glue mixture of potato and wheat starch with a carpenter's glue. However, despite all the difficulties, the work was performed superbly by the printers ... to the chagrin of the following generations of collectors, who still do not conceal regret that the world's first sheet of stamps not only devoid of the glue layer in some places, but it also has a damaging paper: the glue was perfect!

Benjamin Cheverton suggested using a portrait of the young Queen Victoria on a postage stamp. He wrote in his proposal: "In the case of forgery ... it’s hard to say what the difference between the portraits will be like, but it will be immediately detected." A picture for "Penny Black" with the profile of Queen Victoria was engraved by Charles and Frederick Hits according to the sketch by Henry Cole, which, in its turn, was made on the basis of William Vayona’s medallion.

Cheverton also gave an idea to put down miniature letter indices on all stamps, which determined the location of each of them in a printed sheet. The author and the publishers justified his idea to fight against falsifiers.

Funny incident

There was a funny incident with stamps issued for the anniversary of "black penny." In 1990 the world celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first stamp in the world. On this occasion, the London grandiose World Philatelic Exhibition was held. The stamps dedicated to this event, were produced in many of the countries. The USSR also took part in their printing. On February 15, 1990 a series of three stamps and souvenir sheets were published in the country. When the stamps came to London, the British were greatly surprised. On one stamp which pictured the stamp whose anniversary was celebrated there were the letters "TP" and "VK". In the English alphabet "P" is the 16th letter, and "V" is the 22nd letter. But the sheet of "Penny black" consisted of 20 horizontal rows of 12 stamps in the line. Therefore, the sheet didn’t have the 22nd horizontal row and the 16th stamp in the line. When all of this was disclosed, the post of the USSR was forced to print the correct stamps. The funny thing was the fact that the stamps were prepared by the artist V.Koval, who had put his own initials ("VK") and the initials of his relatives in the corners of "penny black".

However, the British postal service liked the idea of ​​the Russian artist, and they implemented his idea in 2000 while preparing an emblem for the World Philatelic Exhibition "Stamp show-2000". That emblem had the picture of "black penny" with non-existent letters "RM", which meant "RoyalMail."


In 2007, cancelled "Penny Black" cost from $ 10 to $ 200; it depended upon the integrity of the stamp. The price of "Black penny" in good condition could reach £ 20,625 (at the auction for charity at Sotheby's on March 6, 2009).

"Penny Black" can not be called a very rare stamp. But a lot of stamp collectors want to have it in their collection because of its historical significance.

Penny Blacks and other favourite stamps!