The Stamp I Wish I Had Never Sold

The Stamp Man

The Stamp Man

2019-02-08 17:59:39

10 times rarer than the penny black

This is the one that got away…

Great Britain 1840 2d blue, plate 2

Superb unused original gum four margin example lettered MC.Accompanied by a 1989 Royal Philatelic Society (RPS) certificate of authenticity.

Mint 2d blues are rarely seen in such fine condition, especially plate 2.

GB Specialised Catalogue Number: DS8.

I remember selling this stamp eighteen years ago. 

Back then it sold for £7,500.

Today, it is priced in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue at £48,000. That’s a staggering increase in value of 540%. Or to put it another way, a 30% increase every year for the past eighteen years.

It has performed better than its most famous counterpart, the penny black. The rarer 2d blue printing plate 2 has also outperformed plate 1, see table below:

This is the problem with being a stamp trader rather than a collector or investor.

I do all the hard work to find one of the most special stamps you could possibly own… and then I sell it.

In the long term, the buyer is the winner, the seller (me) the loser.

Despite the increase in value of this stamp over the past eighteen years, almost every stamp dealer I know says the same thing…

“This stamp is under-valued in the SG catalogue”.

Let me explain why…

A Very Special Two penny Blue

The two penny blue was issued at the same time as the penny black. It shares the distinction of being one of the world’s first two postage stamps.

The design of the two penny blue is the same as the penny black and was struck from the same die.

The first edition of the 2d blue was only in issue for one year. The later and less valuable issues are easy to spot. They have horizontal white lines above the value and below “POSTAGE”.

Despite being issued at the same time as the penny black (6th of May 1840), the first 2d blue ever to be issued was placed on sale at the London Inland Revenue office in the afternoon of the 8th of May, 1840.

The two penny blue was used for posting packages weighing over half an ounce. At the time, sending a letter by post was a new concept. The idea of sending a parcel was an even bigger leap.

Because of this, considerably lower numbers of the 2d blue were printed compared to the penny black. Around 10 times more penny blacks were issued than the two penny blue stamps.

A mint penny black is valued at £12,500. Based on rarity alone, we should expect the 2d blue to be valued at £125,000 (over 2.5 times its current value)!

Of course, rarity is not the only factor which determines price. Most importantly, it is about demand and you would expect more people to want the world’s first postage stamp than the second place two penny blue.

Whilst this is true, I can speak from experience in saying demand for mint penny blacks is not 10 times that of the two penny blue.

The penny black is the jewel in the crown of many collections. However, any collector interested in this fascinating period of stamp history will also want to secure a two penny blue.

One version of the two penny blue was produced in the British Colony of Mauritius in 1847. The stamps look similar to their British cousins, created by Joseph O. Barnard.

The rare Mauritius two penny blue was last auctioned off in the UK for more than £1 million in 2011. The previous owner originally bought it for £29,000 in 1972.

This is a good illustration of how buying key stamp rarities and holding for the very long term is an astute means of protecting and growing wealth.

The Mauritius 2d “Post Office” deep blue, unused.

There are only 12 examples in existence, 4 of which are unused. Most are now in permanent museum collections. 

Sold for over £1 million in 2011.

I agree with the general sentiment of stamp dealers in the market…

The price in the SG catalogue does not truly reflect the level of rarity of the British 2d blue compared to high levels of demand. Finding a high quality unused example with original gum can take years.

The plate 2 example of the 2d blue I have is very rare and seldom found in this quality…

Printing plate

The initial printing of the two penny blue took place from 1 May 1840. In all, 6,462,960 were printed from two printing plates until 29 August 1840. In comparison, over 68 million penny blacks were printed.

There were 3,977,280 2d blues issued from plate 1. Plate 2 was put to press on July 27th, 1840 with 2,485,680 being issued. 633 sheets were spoilt in printing meaning 151,920 had to be destroyed.

The rarer plate 2 is actually 27 times rarer than the penny black.

The survival rate of unmounted mint examples is very low. A superb quality example such as the one I have should justify a price at a premium to the SG catalogue value.

After all, I may never get the opportunity to handle this stamp again.

A good time to buy

Price increases for the 2d blue, plate 2 have been more subdued in the past 10 years (3.7% per annum between 2008 and 2018).

That’s something I like to see when looking at stamps for investment. Rare stamps from Great Britain show average growth rates of around 10% over the past 60 years.

But those growth rates are never linear…

Between 1975 and 1980 GB rare stamp prices went up by close to 600% in 5 years. This was the last time of high inflation in the UK. Between 1980 to 1985 price growth was just 10%.

There are three key historic lessons I have learned about rare British stamps:

  1. Periods of low growth normally precede periods of high growth
  2. GB rare stamps show the highest levels of growth in periods of high inflation
  3. Prices of GB rare stamps show a spike around the International Stamp Exhibition being held in London

Most people expected high inflation, if not hyperinflation, as a consequence of governments printing virtual money in response to the financial crisis of 2008. Now we have uncertainties over Brexit causing further concerns about inflationary pressures.

Should inflation come home to roost, tangible assets such as rare stamps will have their day again, for sure.

The International Stamp Exhibition is the equivalent to the Olympics in stamps. When the Exhibition is hosted in London, we normally see a period of activity and price increases. The next International Stamp Exhibition comes to London in May 2020, so the next year could be interesting.

How to secure this major rarity

Let me first recap:

  • The 2d blue is one of Britain’s most famous stamps, issued at the same time as the penny black
  • 10 times rarer than the penny black
  • From the rarer second printing plate
  • In SUPERB condition, but priced without premium at the standard catalogue value of £48,000
  • Accompanied by an independent certificate of authenticity from the prestigious Royal Philatelic Society
  • A strong history of price appreciation with market dynamics creating potential for growth in the future

To secure this absolute treasure of British philately, respond to this email to let us know you are interested.

Alternatively, you can call us today on +44(0)1534 639998.

If history were to repeat itself, this stamp would be worth over £300,000 by 2036.

Kind regards,

Mike Hall

CEO, Just Collecting

PS. For information, you can easily identify the printing plate number of the 1840 2d blues. In plate 2, the upper right star has two of its three rays (middle and left) broken off, giving this star a rounded or bald appearance at top.

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