Expected most expensive postal item ever to go under the hammer


The oldest mailed envelope with a prepaid stamp will soon go under the hammer. The item is expected to fetch between $1.5 million and $2.5 million (between R27 million and R45 million).

The envelope boasts a Penny Black stamp, the first adhesive stamp used in a public postal system. It cost a British penny when it was released in the United Kingdom on May 1, 1840, according to Barron’s. The stamp, featuring Queen Victoria’s profile, was not considered valid until May 6 of that year.

This envelope, sent from London to ironworks manager William Blenkinsop Jr. sent in Bedlington, is dated 2 May 1840.

Before the Penny Black, postal rates were “expensive and unpredictable” and the recipient had to pay for them, reports CNN. This caused headaches for the postal service “which sometimes could not recover costs for items delivered if the person who received them did not pay”.

The Mulready letterhead, an ornate, illustrated envelope folded into a diamond shape and indicating postage prepaid, was released at the same time as the Penny Black.

Auctioneers Sotheby’s say the original envelope sent to Blenkinsop was reversed and “posted back as a Mulready” on May 4, 1840. One mr. Blenkinsop, believed to be the sender’s father, received it in Dalston, Cumbria.

Although the letters were lost, the envelope with the two mailing dates survived for 180 years.

“The decorated Mulready envelope, sealed with a Penny Black, turned on its head the way people corresponded with each other, exchanged ideas, shared news and expressed themselves,” says Richard Austin, Sotheby’s head of books and manuscripts.

The item will be made available at an auction in New York next month and could become one of the most valuable items of postal history ever auctioned, according to Sotheby’s.

One of three surviving Penny Black stamps from the very first sheet printed, dated April 1840, was offered at a Sotheby’s auction in 2021 with an expected sale price of $8.4 million, according to Reuters, but it did not sell. not.