6 May 1840 : The Penny Black stamp was officially launched
Happy Birthday Penny Black !!
The Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on 1 May 1840, for official use from 6 May of that year and features a profile of Queen Victoria.
All London post offices received official issues of the new stamps but other offices throughout the United Kingdom did not, continuing to accept postage payments in cash only for a period. Post offices such as those in Bath began offering the stamp unofficially after 2 May 1840.
The idea of an adhesive stamp to indicate pre-payment of postage was part of Sir Rowland Hill's 1837 proposals to reform the British postal system; it was normal then for the recipient to pay postage on delivery. A companion idea, which Hill disclosed on 13 February 1837 at a government enquiry, was that of a separate sheet that folded to form an enclosure or envelope for carrying letters. At that time postage was charged by the sheet and on the distance travelled.
On 1 May 1840, post offices were issued with stocks of black one-penny stamps bearing a profile of a young Queen Victoria. And on 6 May, their use became official.
The franking mark – to prevent re-use of the stamps – was a red Maltese cross. Unfortunately, that could be rubbed off. So the colour of the ink was changed to black – which spelled the end of the Penny Black, and the birth of the Penny Red, which was introduced in 1841 and would last until 1879.
The original die of penny black was engraved by the Heath brothers from a medal design showing the head of Queen Victoria by William Wyon. The stamps were printed by Perkins Bacon security printers in sheets of 240 examples without perforations with letters in each corner the deter forgery and each sheet had to be cut up by scissors at the post office. Due to the long life of the design 11 separate plates were used, each with its own distinguishing characteristics and in all over 68 Million Penny Blacks were printed.
Penny Blacks - what makes them valuable?
So what makes Penny Blacks valuable? The major factor is condition. Those postal clerks and their scissors didn’t often cut carefully along the narrow margins and the majority had the design cut into. Also because they became an overnight collecting sensation households and businesses would save them by passing a needle and thread through the middle making1d Black Strings which were then sold by the foot to budding stamp dealers!
On 17th February 2015,Isle of Man Post Office issued in collaboration with Stanley Gibbons marking the 175th Anniversary of the Penny Black, the world's first adhesive posting stamp used in the public postal system, and the birth of Edward Stanley Gibbons.
Ludhiana philatelists wish for million-dollar stampAditi Gyanesh,TNN | May 6, 2015, 06.52 AM IST
LUDHIANA: World's first adhesive postage stamp, 'Penny Black', completes 175 years, and so does the culture of stamps. City philatelists on Tuesday shared their experiences of collecting stamps and still craving for the prized 'Penny Black'. Some of them are even keeping dummy, stickers, or photocopies of this stamp, to memorize and tell people about how and when stamps around the world took birth.
The reason behind collectors pursuing this rare stamp is not just philately. "It is extremely high in crores," Yashpal Bangia, president of Philatelic Congress of Punjab, said. "None of the philatelist in North India have the Penny Black. One has to shell out in crores for the stamp. The pricing, however, depends on the stamp's condition," Bangia added.
"Every philatelist the Penny Black," Bangia said. However, to articulate his love for the world's first stamp on its 175th anniversary, Bangia proudly mentioned about his collection of stamps on "Rowland Hill", inventor of "Penny Black" and first Indian stamp.
Bangia has worked for India Post and has written more than 40 books on philately till date. Another philatelist, IP Mehta (67), "This stamp gave birth to our work and hobbies. With the 175 years of this stamp, it is also 175 years of culture of sending letters by using stamps. We have many Victorian stamps with us but not the most important one, sadly."
However, philatelist also discussed the loosing importance stamps in next generation. Emails have replaced stamps now, they said, people do not need snail mail it anymore.