Great Britain 1840 Two Penny Blue
The Great Britain 1840 Two Penny Blue was the world’s second official postage stamp issued in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland shortly after the first official postage stamp, the Great Britain 1840 Penny Black, on 6 May 1840.
History and design
The first 2d blue ever to be issued was placed on sale at the London Inland Revenue office in the afternoon of May 8th 1840. The intention of Sir Rowland Hill was to issue the 2d blue at the same time as the 1d black. However, it was apparently delayed as the first record of its use on May 8th is two days later than the Penny Black’s official issue date.
Whereas the Penny Black was intended for use on mail weighing up to half an ounce, the Two penny Blue’s weight limit was a full ounce.
The design was identical to that of the Penny Black, varying only in its colour and its price, with ‘two pence’ appearing beneath the image of Queen Victoria. The first issues of the stamp value were printed from plates 1 and 2.
In January 1841 the decision was made to change the colour of the Penny Black, and at the same time the ink used for the 2d blue was also changed to prevent the cleaning and reusing of the stamps. At the same time two new printing plates were made (plates 3 & 4) including white lines appearing below the word ‘postage’ and above ‘two pence’ to differentiate the new versions from the previous ones. These issues are generally referred to as the ‘white lines added issue’.
Rarity and value
The Two Penny Blue is considerably rarer that the Penny Black, which is reflected in its value. According to the latest Stanley Gibbons Great Britain Concise Stamp Catalogue, a good condition used Penny Black has a current market value of around £375, whereas a Two Penny Blue in a similar condition is priced at around £650.
For stamp collectors, the 1840 Two Penny Blue is far rarer than the later 1841 Two Penny Blue which was issued with white lines added.