Posts Tagged ‘roland hill’

The Crown Jewel in the Nation’s greatest hobby

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 Blackthe crown jewel in the nation’s greatest hobby.

Penny Black blog - The Crown Jewel in the Nation’s greatest hobby

The 1840 Penny Black

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…

Roland Hill Penny Black 203x300 - The Crown Jewel in the Nation’s greatest hobby

Roland Hill – The inventor of the Penny Black.

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… 

Penny Black 251x300 - The Crown Jewel in the Nation’s greatest hobby

1840 Penny Black with 4 clear margins

You can own your own 4-Margin Penny Black, like Billy.  Click here for details >>>