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The Perfect Portable Store of Tangible Wealth

The Perfect Portable Store of Tangible Wealth

The Perfect Portable Store of Tangible Wealth

Hi fellow collector

Today’s featured philatelic treasure is one for the top dogs of philately only.

If you’re aim is simply to build a good collection, it is probably not for you.

If, however, you’re seeking to build the best collection in the world, read on…

It can only belong to an elite collector.

To win the top prize in philately, known as the Grand Prix, you will certainly need an item like this.

Owning it will gain you recognition and respect from the philatelic greats around the world.

Also, possessing such a valuable portable tangible asset in times like this makes perfect sense.

It is something of considerable value you can literally put in your pocket.

You can trade it in multiple currencies around the world.

You could take it to London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Beijing, Hong Kong, Sydney and many more places where you will find an abundance of willing buyers.

It is a remarkably well-conserved philatelic treasure featuring the world’s first postage stamp.

Not only is it the world’s first postage stamp, it is also from the very first printing plate.

It is simply a stunning piece…

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Technical description

Great Britain 1840 1d grey “penny black”, plate 1a, SG3.

A superb mint horizontal pair lettered FB-FC and a strip of three lettered FD-FF reforming an original strip of five.

Superb mint condition with original gum and all with four large margins, almost never seen.

Despite a light diagonal crease crossing the FB-FC it is nevertheless a stunning multiple with fresh gum and a magnificent grey-black worn impression. The strip of five is believed to be one of the largest surviving worn plate multiples from this printing plate.

Provenance: Ex. Percy de Worms & Grand Prix Gold Medal Winning Collection "Mayflower".

Accompanied with two certificates of authenticity from the British Philatelic Society (BPA) from 2006 & 2010.

The Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Queen Victoria Specialised Catalogue lists the value of a block of four at a value of £160,000 and a pair at £48,000.

Price: £125,000


The first printings of the first stamp

The penny black postage stamp represents the birth of global communication.

It features a portrait of a young Queen Victoria. The Queen personally approved the design.

This was featured in a scene in the BBC TV series “Victoria” aired in 2016.

In the scene, the Queen was introduced to the concept of postage stamps by Rowland Hill with the first sheet of penny blacks printed.

When it was explained to the Queen how postage stamps are attached to the letters being sent, she famously said:

“So, everybody who wants to send a letter, will need to lick my face?”

The first printing plate of the penny black was registered on 15th April 1840. The first day of postage was 6th May 1840.

At that time, they were learning on the job. Printing postage stamps was brand new.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that the first printing plate produced wasn’t quite up to the job.

In a rush to get plate 1 to press in time for issue, the plate was not hardened and it soon showed signs of wear.

It only lasted until about the second week in May before it needed to be withdrawn due to the wear.

Extensive repairs were undertaken and it was up and running again by June.

The first printings prior to repairs are referred to as Plate 1a and the repaired state as Plate 1b.

Plate 1a is the most sought-after plate number and the reunited strip of five is important because it shows the grey-black worn impression.

The certificates of authenticity accompanying the piece refer to the stamps as being “very worn”. That means we know these were among the last penny blacks printed from the first printing plate before it was repaired.

This makes it a very important piece to those building a collection as a philatelic study of the very first printings of the very first postage stamp.

The reunited strip of five is believed to be one of the largest surviving worn plate multiples from plate 1a.

As such, it is considered a major rarity and philatelic trophy.

Superb Quality

Owning something so rare is obviously a privilege.

What makes this privilege a special delight is when, not only is it rare, but also of stunning quality.

It is a wonder to see such a piece which has been so remarkably well-preserved, in this case for the past 182 years.

Five reasons it is “superb” quality:

  1. It is in superb mint condition
  2. With original fresh gum
  3. Showing a magnificent grey-black worn impression
  4. All stamps with four large margins, almost never seen
  5. Brought together in a stunning multiple of five

When rarity and quality combine like this, you’ve hit the jackpot!

Pride and Provenance

Provenance doesn’t get any stronger than this…

This major philatelic piece was once owned by Percy George de Worms (3 November 1873– 2 April 1941), an English aristocrat, a barrister by profession and, of course, a philatelist.

He was a reputed member of the Council and Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society in London.

In 1928, he was invited to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists.

In 1935, the printing firm of Perkins Bacon, famous for the penny black and many other issues, went out of business. Their records were ultimately transferred to the Royal Philatelic Society.

De Worms was given the task of reviewing the records to assess their philatelic value. His research findings were ultimately published posthumously in 1953.

These were published in an authoritative two-volume work of over 900 pages. To this day this book remains one of the primary research sources for those studying the design, printing and production of the early stamps of most British colonies.

More recently, it formed part of the famous “Mayflower” collection. The collection won the most coveted Grand Prix prize at the London 2010 International Stamp Exhibition.

This collection was owned by the British businessman and famous philatelist, Alan Holyoake.

Seven years after his famous philatelic victory, Holyoake was appointed to the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists.

He has won numerous other Grand Prix international awards around the world with some of his most treasured philatelic trophies being displayed for a time at the Smithsonian Postal Museum in Washington D.C.

Our strip of five from plate 1a even features in the book he published in 2014…

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With provenance like this, obviously, authenticity is a given.

Regardless, the item is accompanied with two certificates of authenticity issued by the British Philatelic Association (dated: 2006 for the pair and 2010 for the strip of three).

A Fair Value

The 2021 edition of the Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Queen Victoria Specialised Catalogue lists the value of a block of four at £160,000 and a pair at £48,000.

This would suggest a fair market value for the reunited strip of three and pair at around £150,000 to £165,000.

And, this valuation does not consider the significant premium value for the reuniting of the strip of three with the pair to form five consecutive penny blacks from the original sheet.

In June 2011, a major auction of penny blacks took place in London. The auction featured a mint block of four penny blacks from plate 7. That realised £300,000.

Whilst not directly comparable, I would suggest this provides a useful barometer from which to assess the fair value of our strip of five penny blacks, being amongst the last printed from the first printing plate.

My price is £125,000 for this top prize of British philately.


Buy in on the dip

Normally, at this point, I show you how the historic growth rate of the rarity I am offering has proven a strong investment.

Unusually, this area of the stamp market has experienced a downward price correction in the past 10 years.

What that means for you buying today is…

It will cost you 30% less than it would have 10 years ago.

Take a look below at the price history based on the Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Queen Victoria Specialised Catalogue:NB. Total = price for pair + ¾ of the price for a block of four to arrive at value of five

We see here a tale of two halves…

In the first half, between 2001 and 2011 the growth in value was as you would expect to see for such a sought-after rarity from early British philately.

It increased in value by 592% (59% pa for ten years).

In the second half, between 2011 and 2021 the price fell back by 30%. This is an unusual, albeit not unheard of scenario, for very rare philatelic items such as this.

Despite this drop in value, the 20-year growth of 387% still equates to a healthy 19% pa.

To be comfortable buying in at this lower price level, we first need to understand what happened to cause the fall in value. Then, we need to consider what might happen in the next ten years.

The reason for the fall in value is simple…

A huge and unprecedented number of collections worth £millions featuring stamps from early British philately came on the market one after the other during this time.

After 10 years of hardly any buying opportunities, suddenly there were more early British rarities to buy than there were available high net worth collectors.

Prices had to fall.

The important thing to note though is that there were buyers, just at lower prices.

Like all price corrections, I suspect this went too far and now the values of key pieces from early British philately look decidedly good value.

Also, consider this…

Earlier this year, a block of four of the most famous stamp from the US, the Inverted Jenny, sold at Sotheby’s auctions for just under $5 million.

It makes the current price of £125,000 for one of the most important pieces of early British philately sound like a real bargain.

A Proud Investment

The penny black will always be the world’s first postage stamp and therefore the most famous and sought after by collectors.

It is an object as important as the first printed book, the first aircraft or the first home computer. These are inventions that changed the world forever.

Because of constant high demand, the market is highly liquid. The penny black is a portable tangible asset which can be traded in multiple currencies around the world.

There is an indelible pride and pleasure in owning such an iconic piece.

Let’s recap:

  •  A major philatelic rarity from the first printing plate of the world’s first postage stamp
  • In superb condition and one for the philatelic connoisseur
  • With exceptional provenance originating from a Gold Medal winning collection
  • Available to purchase today at a 30% discount to its value 10 year ago
  • A current lack of supply of such rare philatelic treasures coming to the market bodes well for price appreciation as demand exceeds available supply


Call me immediately on +44(0)1534 639998.

Or email me today at

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Mike Hall

PS. I understand that £125,000 is outside the financial reach of many people. To ensure you don’t miss out on owning this philatelic great for financial reasons, I am willing to accept payment terms of twelve monthly instalments of £10,000.

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