World’s First Postage Stamp Could Sell for Millions at Sotheby’s Auction


The Penny Black, which is the first postal stamp in the world, will be up for auction. Sotheby’s predicts it could go for as high as $8.25million.

The earliest dateable example of the first stamp is 1840. Attached to a document dated April 10,1840, the adhesive stamp features a profile Queen Victoria.

It is from Robert Wallace’s archive, a British postal service reformer. He was also a Scottish politician. 

The Penny Black, which introduced a flat rate, was used starting May 6, 1840. Before then, the recipient was responsible for the postage costs.

“It is the very first, and it is the earliest known dated stamp,”Alan Holyoake, current Penny Black stamp owner said. “It came from the very, very first sheet ever printed.

“Wallace signed, dated, issued and dated his scrapbook note, supporting the fact this is the first instance of a postage stamp that every country has and that the world used up until 1870.”

The stamp is one of three Penny Blacks believed to have survived from the first sheet of printed stamps. The other two are part of the collection at the British postal museum.

The auction price for this one has been set between four and six million dollars.

“It would be a disappointment if it did not exceed that, as this is a global icon. It is the original stamp in the world.” Holyoake added.

“It took me three long years to gather the necessary information and validate it with a team. It has been exhibited at major events as the star piece and has been certified by all top authorities.

The stamp will be up for auction at Sotheby’s Treasures Sale on December 7, 2007.