The Penny Black – 175 Years

This is a big year for stamp collectors as they mark 175 years since the world’s first adhesive postage stamp was introduced back in 1840. The little square of black paper with a finely engraved profile of the young Queen Victoria has become an item that many collectors want to have. It’s not that expensive a stamp – it’s significance lies more in being the “first” and in what it meant for people who wrote letters. At just a penny, it really opened up correspondence, news and education for people who were formerly excluded by the high cost of postage.

Penny Black

Penny Black

The stamps were used in Ireland, of course, since the Royal Mail covered both Britain and Ireland at that time and the interesting story of how one very early Penny Black came to be used on a  letter from Dublin to London in May 1840 is told in  a little booklet, which contains an exact replica of the letter and stamps, available from our philatelic department.

The 1840 Fitzpatrick letter

The Fitzpatrick – Thomas Letter of 1840