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The World's First Postage Stamps: The 1840 Penny Black

A letter carrying a Penny Black and deliberately sent on May 5, 1840, the day before the stamp was valid for postage.
A letter carrying a Penny Black and deliberately sent on May 5, 1840, the day before the stamp was valid for postage. The postage was paid in cash.
A letter carrying a Penny Black and deliberately sent on May 5, 1840, the day before the stamp was valid for postage. The postage was paid in cash.
A mail piece bearing ten Penny Blacks, mailed on the stamp's first day of issue.
A mail piece bearing ten Penny Blacks, mailed on the stamp's first day of issue. More than 70 first-day Penny Black covers are known, but only this one, the “Kirkcudbright cover,” has more than two Penny Blacks.
A mail piece bearing ten Penny Blacks, mailed on the stamp's first day of issue. More than 70 first-day Penny Black covers are known, but only this one, the “Kirkcudbright cover,” has more than two Penny Blacks.
Plate 1 imprimatur impressions, April 18, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 1 imprimatur impressions, April 18, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 1 imprimatur impressions, April 18, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 1 imprimatur corner single, April 18, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 1 imprimatur corner single, April 18, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 1 imprimatur corner single, April 18, 1840 (pre-hardening)
A stamp from an imprimatur sheet, submitted for approval by an official, from the first Penny Black plate.
Plate 1 imprimatur impression, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
A stamp from an “imprimatur” sheet, submitted for approval by an official, from the first Penny Black plate.
Plate 1 imprimatur impression, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
A stamp from an “imprimatur” sheet, submitted for approval by an official, from the first Penny Black plate.
Plate 1 imprimatur corner single, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
Plate 1 imprimatur corner single, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
Plate 1 imprimatur corner single, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
Letter with Plate 1 Penny Black and official Post Office cancel, June 6, 1840
Letter with Plate 1 Penny Black and official Post Office cancel, June 6, 1840
Letter with Plate 1 Penny Black and official Post Office cancel, June 6, 1840
Plate 2 imprimatur impressions, April 22, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 2 imprimatur impressions, April 22, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 2 imprimatur impressions, April 22, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 2 imprimatur impressions, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
Plate 2 imprimatur impressions, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
Plate 2 imprimatur impressions, April 27, 1840 (post-hardening)
Block of 6 Penny Blacks, Plate 2
Block of 6 Penny Blacks, Plate 2
Block of 6 Penny Blacks, Plate 2
Block of 6 Penny Blacks, Plate 2
Plate 3 imprimatur impressions, May 9, 1840
Plate 3 imprimatur impressions, May 9, 1840
Plate 4 corner single, used
Plate 4 corner single, used
Plate 4 corner single, used
Letter with Plate 4 Penny Black, first known use of black-ink cancel
Letter with Plate 4 Penny Black, first known use of black-ink cancel
Letter with Plate 4 Penny Black, first known use of black-ink cancel
Plate 5 imprimatur impressions, June 1, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 5 imprimatur impressions, June 1, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 5 imprimatur impressions, June 1, 1840 (pre-hardening)
Plate 5 imprimatur impresssions, June 11, 1840 (post-hardening)
Plate 5 imprimatur impresssions, June 11, 1840 (post-hardening)
Plate 5 imprimatur impresssions, June 11, 1840 (post-hardening)
Plate 5 corner strip of 6 Penny Blacks
Plate 5 corner strip of 6 Penny Blacks
Plate 5 corner strip of 6 Penny Blacks
Plate 6 corner pair of Penny Blacks, unused
Plate 6 corner pair of Penny Blacks, unused
Plate 6 corner pair of Penny Blacks, unused
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (24-pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (24-pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (24-pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (24 pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (24 pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (24 pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (26 pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (26 pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (26 pound paper)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (adhesion tests)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (adhesion tests)
Trial printing, Plate 7 Penny Blacks, June 1840 (adhesion tests)
Samples of adhesive gums
Samples of adhesive gums
Samples of adhesive gums
Plate 8 imprimatur impressions, July 31, 1840
Plate 8 imprimatur impressions, July 31, 1840
Plate 8 imprimatur impressions, July 31, 1840
Plate 11 corner pair of Penny Blacks
Plate 11 corner pair of Penny Blacks
Plate 11 corner pair of Penny Blacks
The World's First Postage Stamps: The 1840 Twopenny Blue »