A rare Penny Red stamp has recently become the UK’s second most valuable stamp, selling for £495,000 to an unnamed British collector.
The Penny Red stamp dutifully served the Victorian public for almost 40 years. But only a few knowledgeable collectors are aware of the full significance of the plate numbers from this classic British stamp.
Hidden within the borders of the stamp is the plate number and each number refers back to the original metal plate from which the stamp was printed. And as each plate printed different quantities of Penny Reds, so the plate number is the secret key to the stamp’s rarity and true value.
The Plate 77 Penny Red is one of only five in the world. Dating from 1863, they are viewed by collectors and investors as the holy grail of philately because Plate 77 stamps were not meant to exist. The stamps were created but never sold by post offices after they were considered to be not good enough quality.
The original printing plate was destroyed, but a tiny handful made their way into circulation. As a result they are highly prized by collectors – far more so even than the fabled Penny Black.
The last Plate 77 Penny Red to hit auction sold in 2012 for £550,000, making it the UK’s most expensive stamp. Its slightly higher price reflected the fact that it was in significantly better condition.
Keith Heddle, of collectibles merchant Stanley Gibbons, which sold the stamp, said: “This is one of the most desirable and iconic of British stamps for collectors worldwide, highly sought after for more than 100 years. I’m delighted this one has found a home in Britain.”
You can own an entire Penny Red Plate Collection.
Featuring one stamp from virtually every plate ever used. This is probably the most comprehensive collection of Penny Reds ever offered.