By Aulia R. Sungkar. Published in HighEnd, August 2012 edition.
The popularity of the world’s first postage stamp continues to increase with higher appreciation value.
While philately offers an esoteric form of investment, it was Sir Rowland Hill who initially proposed the radical reform of the postal system to the British Parliament in 1837. Three years later, in 1840, the United Kingdom introduced the Penny Black, the world’s first postage stamp.
May 1, 1840 historically marked the maiden release of the first Penny Black, showing a profile image of the British Queen Victoria on a black background. The issuance of the first Penny Black was followed by the release of 2d blue a day later (Two Penny Blue) and the 1d red appeared in the beginning of 1841 (Penny Red). Both also show the image of the queen.
Truly that Penny Black’s historical value has made it the world’s most iconic stamp, but this less than an inch wide small piece of paper is not considered rare, with a total of 68,158,080 stamps were issued.
Regardless of the large number of Penny Black stamps issued, the once worth a penny paper has appreciated in value and tagged at various prices, depending on the types, series and conditions of such historical pieces.
While a piece of Penny Black in poor condition is averagely priced at the range of US$ 40 – US$ 160, a better quality one can cost between US$ 400 and US$ 2,000. The mint type, having never been used, is the most valuable of Penny Black, tagged at around US$ 3,000 or more depending on the condition and series.
Investment-wise, Penny Black is not one of those winning over million- dollar bids at auctions, but its intrinsic to the historical value as the world’s first is what counts more.
“The historical value is what makes the Penny Black will always increase in value, especially if you own a Penny Black which is still attached to a letter,” says Rini Widya, a Jakarta based philatelist who just purchased a Penny Black on eBay.
According to her, eBay is one of the safest places to buy the Penny Black, as there are many forgeries on the market.