Inside The Postal Museum, Part 2: The Penny Black

e01c0ae9-659b-4642-b065-ac1bbc5b9d84

Latest Posts
Collecting Resource
Sherlock cover produced for GBFDC AGM
08 September 2020
Stamp Guide
125 years of motion pictures
01 September 2020
Stamp Guide
New Irish stamps celebrate Father Ted
01 September 2020
Stamp Guide
#GuernseyTogether and #AlderneySpirit
01 September 2020
06 August 2020
|
The Postal Museum's extensive archives include details and images of many stamps, essays and rejected designs. In this second guide we take a look at perhaps the most famous stamp of them all, the 1840 1d black, better known as The Penny Black…

'… A bit of paper just large enough to bear the stamp, and covered at the back with a glutinous wash.'

This was the first mention by Rowland Hill of what became the world’s first adhesive postage stamp. He was answering the questions of a parliamentary enquiry into the Post Office in February 1837 shortly after the publication of his pamphlet Post Office reform; Its Importance and Practicality.

The eventual plate for the 1d label – The Penny Black – was ready on 1 April 1840 and a proof impression was taken from it that day.

The display at The Postal Museum currently includes one of the first registration sheets of the completed Penny Black along with an 1838 medal by William Wyon, an 1840 master die and unused Twopenny Blue stamps.

Printed by Perkis Bacon each row and column on the registration sheet had a different corner letter to help prevent forgery. The Penny Black stamp portrait of Queen Victoria was inspired by a silver medal produced by William Wyon to commemorate a visit by the Queen to the City of London. Charles and Frederick Heath created the March 1840 ‘Old Original’ master die from which the printing plates for all Penny Blacks and many later Penny Red stamps were created. Corner letters were punched into the plates by hand.

The Twopenny Blue was the companion stamp to the Penny Black for heavier letters over half an ounce (14g) in weight.

Both the medal and the Twopenny stamps are part of the RM Phillips Collection of British Victorian stamps.


Find out more about The Postal Museum at: www.postalmuseum.org

The Postal Museum is an official partner of the Summer of Stamps festival.


Add stamps to your collection today… visit the festival marketplace