Rare block of four Penny Blacks with an image of Queen Victoria is on sale for £ 80,000

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Rare block of four Penny Blacks in mint condition with image of Queen Victoria for sale for £ 80,000

  • Penny Blacks can be purchased from Just Collecting auctioneers in St Helier, Jersey
  • Postage stamp was approved by the post office in May 1840, but took less than a year
  • In February 1841, the Treasury switched from the Penny Black to the Penny Red

A rare block of four Penny Blacks – the world’s first postage stamp – has been put up for sale for £ 80,000.

The self-adhesive stamp, featuring a picture of Queen Victoria, was adopted by the Post Office in May 1840 and allowed users to send letters weighing up to 14 grams for the price of one cent.

However, it took less than a year after it was discovered that the red Maltese Cross postmark, used by postmasters to stamp a stamp, was difficult to see on the Penny Black.

The red ink was also easy to remove, making it possible to reuse stamped stamps.

The rare block of four Penny Blacks has been put up for sale for £ 80,000 at auctioneers Just Collecting, of St Helier in Jersey

The rare block of four Penny Blacks has been put up for sale for £ 80,000 at auctioneers Just Collecting, of St Helier in Jersey

In February 1841, the Treasury switched to Penny Red and began using black ink for cancellations instead, which was more effective and more difficult to remove.

With an identical design to its predecessor, the new stamp was introduced to prevent fraud and to show the Maltese Cross stamp more clearly.

Now the rare block of Penny Blacks, which is AD lettered to BE and is in ‘mint condition’, has been shipped from a private stamp collection at auctioneers Just Collecting, of St Helier in Jersey.

Mike Hall, chief executive of Just Collecting, said: “This philatelic rarity belongs to an elite group of stamps.

The ones that usually feature in the world’s finest and most valuable stamp collections.

Finding just one unused Penny Black with original gum is hard enough.

‘We are lucky if we manage to find more than one or two per year that we can provide to customers.

Finding a block of four can take much longer, sometimes decades.

‘Owning something like that is a real privilege. It’s such an important part of our postal history. ‘

The sale also includes a rare ‘Prussian Blue’ George V stamp that was incorrectly printed on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as King in 1935.

Also available from the auctioneers are the rare 1935 Silver Jubilee 'Prussian Blue' George V stamps

Also available from the auctioneers are the rare 1935 Silver Jubilee 'Prussian Blue' George V stamps

Also available from the auctioneers are the rare 1935 Silver Jubilee ‘Prussian Blue’ George V stamps

The Treasury switched to Penny Red in February 1841 and began using black ink for cancellations.  (Stock image)

The Treasury switched to Penny Red in February 1841 and began using black ink for cancellations.  (Stock image)

The Treasury switched to Penny Red in February 1841 and began using black ink for cancellations. (Stock image)

Despite the Royal Mail’s desperate efforts to destroy them, 480 Prussian Blue stamps entered the public circulation.

It caused the most desirable British postage stamp error in history, with this example tipped to fetch £ 4,000.

Mr. Hall added: ‘This mistake was hugely embarrassing for the Royal Mail, especially since the King himself had chosen the color he wanted.

‘You are simply bidding on a stamp that should not exist. That is an exciting prospect for collectors. ‘

The sale will take place on Tuesday.

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