It started – as all ‘great’ ideas do – down the pub.
There I was, sipping on my *ahem* first pint of amber nectar, when an interesting point came up. A good friend of mine, Billy, is turning 70 this year, and I was asked by my mates what I planned to get him.
It didn’t take me long. By the second round I was in top form, and a great idea came to me.
And yet to their minds, my gift seemed beyond generous. And I’m not sure any of them believed me. But why?
Well that’s because it’s a genuine Penny Black – the crown jewel in the nation’s greatest hobby.
“A genuine one?” was the doubting reply. Which is something I’ve heard a lot over the years.
It’s a perfectly valid response. Especially when you consider the most famous example sold for just under £350,000!
You see, the Penny Black is the world’s FIRST postage stamp. And better yet – from a collector’s point of view – they were only issued for 9 months (1840-41), and are so highly revered in philatelist circles that no collection is complete without it. The very first. A pillar of the Victorian Age.
But here’s the rub. 68 million Penny Blacks were printed in its 9 months of production.
And so for stamp collectors, condition is everything. In fact Stanley Gibbons, the authority on stamps, have a series of terms to help clarify what the condition of a stamp is worth. Every year they assign values to every British stamp ever issued. The values of the most desirable versions are called the ‘fine [used or unused] catalogue price(s)’.
And while there are indeed many more factors that affect the overall value of a Penny Black (plate number, cancellation and corner letters), the gold-standard is the ‘4-Margin’ – a stamp with four clear white margins around the stamp. And despite what you might think, it is a real rarity.
You see it was this version, the most desirable of the Penny Blacks, which I was giving to Billy. Perhaps you can now appreciate my friends’ disbelief.
But there’s something else. Something even more remarkable…
Over recent years the global market for stamp collecting has grown at a rapid rate. One of the major factors for this is because old, historic stamps are rare, difficult to source and limited in supply.
This overall rise in values is perhaps best illustrated by the Stanley Gibbons 250 Index, which has seen a 288% rise in the last ten years alone. Tracking the price of 250 key investment stamps, the index rise reflects the constant demand for the very best stamp issues. And significantly, this growth has been in stark contrast to other comparable markets over the same time.
As a result of this continued demand, the last two decades alone has seen the official Stanley Gibbons catalogue value for a fine used example of the Penny Black rise by 150% – out-performing many other comparable commodities.
And so came my idea. To give my good friend Billy a meaningful gift for a milestone birthday. A gift that’s not only dear to my heart, but something with genuine historical significance, fantastic desirability, and as a bonus, a clear track record of increasing value.
So there you have it, a great idea for a great friend – thank-you Fosters.
If you’re interested…
You can own your own 4-Margin Penny Black, like Billy. Click here for details >>>
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.