Rare Mulready postal envelope 'multiple' set for auction

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Unused muliples of Mulready letter sheets and envelopes are extremely rare and a multiple of three unguillotined 2d envelopes has recently been reported by auctioneers Warwick and Warwick, writes Colin Such.

The Mulready letter sheets and envelopes were engraved from the Mulready artwork, in brass, by John Thompson and individual casts were made, called ‘stereos’. For reasons of security, each stereo was individually numbered.

The stereos were then assembled into ‘formes’ of twelve stereos, consisting of four rows of twelve. Sheets of twelve impressions were then printed from the formes. Several formes were used to print the 1d letter sheets and envelopes.

But only one forme was used for each of the 2d letter sheets and envelopes. The 2d envelope multiple discovered by Warwick and Warwick has the stereo numbers a203, a202, a201 and is from the centre row of the forme.

It is unknown how many complete forms or multiples exist, but the auctioneers can find no record of any offered in any of the major sales of important GB collections to have come onto the market. 

This rare multiple is being offered in Warwick and Warwick’s auction of 3 October.

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The vendor’s father appears to have purchased it from a Robson Lowe auction of 1948 and since then it has been tucked away in a safe. Together with the item is a manila envelope, with the inscription ‘Mulready Post Envelopes, 1840. Belonged to Sir John Tilley K.C.B., Permanent Secretary of the General Post Office, London’ Sir John Tilley succeeded Sir Rowland Hill in the post of Secretary to the Post Office. He had married Anthony Trollope’s sister in 1839. The multiple has folds which suggest it was originally stored in the envelope.

The estimate is £3,000.

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