As most stamp collector already know the Penny Black is the world’s first adhesive postage stamp and was issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on May 1st 1840. Due to its significance this stamps is very popular and following my past article What are the most famous rare and valuable stamps?, I have been receiving a lot of questions about its value. Well let’s try to understand a bit more about this famous stamp and what affects its value.
The Penny Black is not that rare a stamp, as there were 68,808,000 issued, yes 68 million! A substantial number of these have survived, largely because envelopes were not commonly used yet, letters being written, folded and sealed with wax, with the stamp and the address on the obverse. This meant that whenever a letter was filed in a lawyer’s office, bank, etc., the whole thing would be kept.
The stamps were printed in sheets of 240, from engraved steel plates, on gummed paper with a single small crown watermark on each stamp. They were imperforated and had to be cut out with scissors. Over time, due to excessive wear, eleven different printing plates were used (plate 1 is usually differentiated into plate 1a and plate 1b), and it is possible in almost every case to work out which plate any individual stamp was printed from by little characteristics. Things like the positioning of the corner letters within their squares, the presence of the “O flaw”, which rays of the stars in the upper corners are broken at what points, and so on, can point to a correct plate identification, but specialized literature is required in order to do this. Some plates are scarcer than others, plate 11 being the rarest, intended originally solely for the new red stamps, only 16800 stamps were printed from this plate. These are now very rare.
Penny Black Printing Plates
|1a, 1b||15 Apr 1840||10,052,400|
|2||22 Apr 1840||7,659,120|
|3||9 May 1840||4,786,800|
|4||19 May 1840||6,701,760|
|5||1 June 1840||8,616,480|
|6||17 June 1840||9,095,040|
|7||8 July 1840||8,137,680|
|8||31 July 1840||7,180,320|
|9||9 Nov 1840||3,840,000|
|10||9 Dec 1840||1,920,000|
|11||27 Jan 1841||168,000|
A special postmark was also introduced to cancel the stamps. Popularly known as the Maltese Cross. It was to begin with, in black. But since it was difficult to see a black postmark on a black stamp the color was changed to red. Many used examples of the period have killer cancellations, so that it could not be used again. The postal authorities were clearly worried that people might ‘clean’ the stamp so that it could be used again. The colour of the Penny Black was later changed to red for this very reason. Used examples with a light cancellation command a much higher premium on the market than heavily obliterated ones.
The stamps were printed in sheets of 240 (20×12) and the stamps had corner letters (bottom left and right of the stamp) corresponding to its position on the plate. Starting with AA, AB, AC…to AL for the top row, the second row goes from BA to BL and the twentieth row from TA to TL. Four different alphabets were used in the course of time to form the corner letters. A penny black with the corner letters «JF» is shown below, as well as its position on the sheet.
Main factors affecting Value
1- The condition grading and centering. An unused or mint stamp is generally worth much more than a used one. The number, size, and regularity of the margins make a big difference to value. The stamps were not perforated, and had to be separated using scissors. As there is only about 1mm between one stamp and another, it is very easy to wander off just a little and cut into the printed design of the stamp. A stamp with two full margins and perhaps a couple of other part margins is about average. Collectors will pay higher prices for examples with four good, wide, and even margins.
2- The plate the stamp was printed from.
3- The overall appearance of the stamp. Any fault such as a thin, tear, crease, or stain will lower the value
The Penny Black is readily available on the collectors’ market today. However, because of its significance, this stamp in fine condition is in demand by collectors and therefore not cheap. It can be dangerously misleading to suggest values, as some readers of this will be naturally optimistic, others being natural pessimists (or realists!). In 2009, a used Penny Black in poor condition can cost as little as $20 and up to $495 for one in extra fine condition, an unused or mint example would average around $1000 to $7000, depending if it has the original gum or not and if the margins around the stamp are close or wide. The retail price on these is steadily rising. By contrast, a used Penny Red is only $20 and a mint $450 in nice condition.
158 thoughts on “The Penny Black, how to determine its value”
Very informative! I enjoyed reading the article. The plating process is not as complicated as I had first thought. Thank you.
i just wondered if you could help me with the age of the stamp that i have.
It is s burgubdy red colour, one penny with the letters L top left and O in the top right
The bottom right is also an L but it is difficlut to see what the bottom wleft is
any advice would be appreciated
Your stamp is probably the Penny Red. The Penny Red was Great Britain’s longest running stamp, from February 1841 to the end of November 1879. It was used for the standard letter postage rate of 1d and approximately 21 billion were issued.
I have the penny black stamp. Issued 1840-1841.I have any paper work needed, how can I get it appraised
I have a penny black mint condition unused says 1p on the right hand side and underneath says Isle of Man. Can you please tell me if you think it might be valuable as had it for at least 30 years.
Those stamps were issued to commemorate the Penny Black. Many have been issued through the years. They are not valuable.
A very informative article and has been useful in helping me to make my purchase. Tell me how does one know which plate the stamp came from, I understand the length of rays on the stars on the top left & right corners is the key is this true and are there any other clues ?
Yes Ade, other clues like the presence of the “O flaw” can point to a correct plate identification, but specialized literature is required for precise identification.
What would a 4 block of mint penny blacks be worth?
I haven’t seen the stamps yet to determine their condition but have been informed that they are mint.
Just a ball-park figure as I’m sure the owner would wish to sell!
i have a pennyblack 1840 plate 8 JL initials, how much would this be worth?
Did u ever find out the value of your One Penny Black stamp? I have one with letters JK. Im guessing its plate 8 by the noticable flaws. If so your may have been beside mine. Since they were cut by hand i was curious about yours and how it would match up. Maybe you would be interested in it? [email protected] 304-671-8658 call or text Thanks,Margie Augusta, WV 26704
i have black one penny
We have a Penny Black on a marriage certificate dated 1919 what would an estimated value be for this?
Penny black was in cerculation fir less than a yr in 1919 the Penny black wasn’t in use
Are you sure of that – the penny black was only on sale for 1 year – 1840; then it was changed to the penny red. There never was a black coloured small value stamp ever again.
My penny black has four margins, one is a bit wonky,one thinner than the other 3 and 2 fairly even.It has the red stamp mark which is quite pale over head neck and face.It has the letter I and E in the bottom corners,it is in excellent condition.Can you give me a rough valuation,thanks Catherine
I have a Penny Black on cover dated August 4 1841 with an accompanying letter of Mr Grodeski from Gibbons,my brother
paid 1765 Pounds for it 30 years ago,he gave it to me ,but any Idea of its worth now ?
We got a letter dated Jan 1841 with penny black stamp with letters M and F on corners and the wax seal at the back of the letter , the stamp have good even egde all around , any ideas of the value ?
I have a Penny Black Stamp/ May of 1840/ Issued in England/ Portrait of Queen Victoria. #0560. I would like to know the value if possible and I am interested in selling it.
It is in a plastic case in excellent condition. The bottom left has letter T and right G.
Please help me what this stamp is worth. Jo
I have a 1840 ( December 6th) cover penny black with letters JA on the corners. I purchased it in 2004 for £195 any idea of it’s value now?
can you please tell me the value of penny black stamp with letters pl (philympia 1970)
hi there, I have a used penny red , J and E corner letters and a nice clean bold number 9 in black , it also has one penny printed on the top end of the stamp below perperations and nothing at bottom , is this a common fault ,
can you give me any info and possibly a value on a particular stamp details as follows, queen victoria , 3 shilings, light green in colour, titled judicature fees, C.R.O 77 perforated in the center. thank you
i have a penny black , used , in bottom corners it has A , D , could you please give me any idea of its worth , thank you it is in good condition
I was just wondering if you would give me an idea how much a never used penny black is worth. It has the letters AA on the bottom and the glue is still on the back.
Did you find out about your stamp?
I have ‘The Penny Black’ May 6, 1840 stamped with the red Maltese Cross.
‘O’ in the bottom left and ‘C’ in the bottom right. The stamp comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and is housed in a capsule.
Is this stamp valuable?
My father has a penny black with a pale red Maltese cross over part of the Victoria’s head. Three of the margins are good but the right one goes in slightly at the top by the star. The bottom left reads G and right reads C. It’s in a black presentation wallet with the Summer collection printed on the back.
Would you be able to give us an idea of it’s value?
i would like to know how mutch is a penny black letters 1d in the corners with a red maltease mark on the stamp would be valued i know it was the first issue and it was the forth row when printed
can you please tell me the value of penny black stamp with letters pl
durai from tamil nadu
hi i have a rare black stamp whitch has a crown and the letters v and r on it and it was printed in 1866,can anyone help me with what it is plz
I have used penny black with letters dh in corners is it worth anything.
I have penny black with penny black gold coin from london mint company letters d and h in corners how much is it worth
I have an unused Penny Black Plate 9 cut close one margin and regummed.
Certificate. What would be it’s value?
I have a penny black plate with the letters P and L. It has 4 markings on the back : RC in a five sided box, and star within a circle, a lion, and the letter D in italix. What would this be worth?
Are you sure about the Maltese Cross colour change from BLACK to RED
Surely it was RED to BLACK !!
Barry, it went from black to red on the penny black, then back to black for the penny red.
The Maltese Cross began life in May 1840 in red, during September of the same year experiments were carried out in London using black ink and then in February 1841 the country officially moved to black ink. The comment from Daniel is incorrect
Tony peers could u tell me about my grandfathers penny black i came across when he passed away its got gum the plate code is QD its got a red Maltese cross on it 2 smell margins a wide 1 and a wonky 1 lol
i have two sheets each has 25 stamps (5 across 5 down) marked on aa to ee (both identical sheets). Is there any value in these?
ha- its a commemorative issue. What a hoot!
Hello, I have a used Penny Black with letter E and G.
Any idea how much it’s roughly worth please?
I have a 1840 Penny Black with letters G L. Clear to large margins. Fine used. Any idea of the worth please?
Did you ever get a value on your Penny Black? I have a fine, used, Plate 1b, 1840 with the letters D, E.
i have a used 1840 penny black stamp with 4 margins with the letters J on bottom left and letter A bottom right.. how muchis this worth??
I have 5ea. penny black stamps, i’ve been trying to find out the price of these unused stamps, no one seems to know, can’t find any info on the plate letters… 1ea. 1840 mk., 1ea.1854-57ba., 1ea.lb., 1880-81ce., 1883-84 1ea. Ia…need some help from anyone… john northrop
I also have a Penny Black, SK, but I don’t know how much.
I have a penny black with the letters m e at the bottom, 3 good margins, the top margin has part of the above stamp. Need to know what plate it is from, many thanks.
i have a penny black stamp and the letters in the bottom are k and c could u help determine what it might be worth the paper i have with it says it is from 1840 in may
hi iv a pennt black stamp the letters b.l at the bottom its been used but in v good conditon. not even eges black stamp very fant. eny one no the value. very good conditon i think. thanks jim
eny one i can send a photo
The penny black i have has got G & D in the bottom corners can any one help me find out more
I have a letter, written January 1st 1841, with a Penny Black stamp. The two letters are ‘M’ at bottom left, and ‘G’ at bottom right. The stamp is slightly stained, and has been franked with a red Maltese Cross, and has a circular frank on the letter saying ‘South Molton’. The borders are not central, but a white border can be seen all around. A possible value, please?
If the stamp is stained from the oils used in making the ink for the red obliterator, then it’s acceptable, if not, then it detracts from the value.
On a full cover [not piece, [part, front, etc.!] they are worth about double those ‘off cover’.
Your margins sound like a ‘fine’ copy in British Grading, so about 60% of the generic, non-plated price of £350 as full retail.
With Penny Blacks, appearance is ALL!
Hi,I have a penny black with red cross. In great condition and the letters on left and right side are both “F”.
Says its 172 years old on the paper I got.
Just wondering if you could tell me approx value.
I have one for sale. Contact me via my email if you are interested [email protected]
i have ablack penny 1840 stamp certified by the westminster collection what would be the value please
i have the victorian line engraved stamp collection 19th century certified by westminster collection request for vale of the 8 stamps
I don’t understand many of the people here. “I have a (blah blah blah) How much is it worth?” What part of “It can be dangerously misleading to suggest values….” do you people not understand? This article is largely common sense.
u are right. John. surprisigly but i am rather than a joyful of getting to know more about the stamp, the postmark, having an envelope dated 6th May 1840 and so on and others per advised by stamps echo.
I have an 1840 one penny black stamp with a red cross over it..it is on envelope dated July 16th 1840 . I would like to know if it has any value to it please.
ms king, the closer to 6th May 1840, the more expensive would be. tq
I have a black penny and its May 6, 1840 the black penny has a Red Cross on it !! Would love to no it value ??
If your 1d Black is genuinely used on a cover dated May 6 1840, it is a first day of official usage and valuable. Condition would then determine how valuable, perhaps up to GBP£20,000.
Hi I have a penny black,letters o bottom lift h on right.interested in selling. Would like to here from somebody who know’s about the value, if anybody can help me with that call me 1 519 305 0577 or email me thank you.
I have blue stamp with a black ink marking on it. it is hard to make out the date, at the bottom it has TWOPENCE HALFPENNY. I can just make out the letters RSA ON TOP. There is no markings on the back. Please can you let me know if there is any value. It is in fair condition. Thank you.
Hello i have a black penny with gold in the middle and at the top left is A and at the top right is B and and writes that it is 22 karat gold stamp 1996 has some value?
Hello Max, I have the same Penny Black 22 karat gold one, but A and B are at the bottom. Please inform me if any idea about price. thnx
Hi i when to this thrift store where i found a red nice carpet like a book.when i open it it have a stamp which is the black penny.
It have the story about the blak penny and is one of first postage stamps. It says may 6 1840 and its a letter fold inside and stamp with the black penny. It says first day issue in london may 6 1840 and is sing by james a. Helzer president. It got letter j a in each corner and the other stamp letter t f the floder is in good condiction so the letter. I want to know how much it worth and both stamps are market in red. Plz let me know any informtion thank you.
Hi Felicia, do you wan to sell? If so, can you send a picture? Paul
I am looking to BUY a penny black…please email me at [email protected]
I have had a Penny Black since I was a child in my collection, with the letters P L on the bottom.
Does anyone have any idea the value of this.
Thanks for your help.
Have one for sale— (1a thin)red mark good margins letters p—c interested email
I have a stamp which is pale black and it one penny, is this classed as a penny black?
Hya I have a very large collection of stamps from my uncle starting dates from 1840 with penny black / red / and others so much to say if would like to know more just email me thnx
trying to i.d. plate no for 1d black. 4 very good straight margins, slight thinning 1 small patch, very slight. letters t left k rt bottom, centre of top lt star four pointed cross in centre 12 pointed outer star lt top,2-8 th star point thick, top rt star centre black dot only, not cross like lt,2 3 and 11th point of rt star appear small. red mx cancellation clear, rest of stamp is crisp and sharp, any help appreciated
Which Plate does your Penny Black stamp come from?
To many, the plating of the worlds most famous stamp is a mystery, indeed it was to me when I first started stamp collecting. But the plating of the 1d black can be both absorbing and rewarding. The 1d black was placed on sale to the public on May 2nd 1840 for use on May 6th. It was printed in sheets of 240. From a series of plates, each plate was manufactured from the same master dye. This dye was engraved and hardened before being pressed 240 times on to a softened plate. This plate was then hardened, cleaned and polished and eventually set to print many millions of stamps, 68 million 1d blacks were printed and released from 12 different plates, numbered 1 to 11, plate 1 being 2 plates, the softened version plate 1A and the hardened and longer wearing plate 1B. The plate numbers appeared in the sheet margin at the bottom left and right hand corners. At the end of 1840 it was decided to change the colour of the stamps to red brown as the black cancellers used in the later stages of this issue did not show up too clearly on the black stamp. Plate 11 was the first plate produced solely for printing stamps in the new red brown shade, due to last minute shortages of the black stamp before the red could be issued, it was, for two days only, used as an emergency to supply the late demand. Plate 11 therefore is by far the rarest of all the 1d blacks and is highly sought in any condition.
In order to plate a 1d black we must first look at the corner letters, on each sheet there are 240 differently lettered stamps, the first stamp of the top row is lettered AA. The row continues to AL and then starts at the 2nd row BA to BL and so on throughout the sheet until the final row TA to TL. These letters are the only part of the design that was put in my hand. After the steel dye had been rolled 240 times to produce the plate, the letters were then punched in. It is therefore possible to collect a 1d black lettered say, AA from each plate, although the stamps looks identical it can be seen that in each case the letters differ in position, some may be high, others low or to the left or right, some may be crooked or doubled where the punch was struck twice, so these letters play an important role in plating the black. As the dye was pressed during the manufacture of this plate, weakness occurred, some of the arms of the top left hand star became invisible in certain plates, known as the 5 o clock, 7 o clock ray flaws because of their positions on the clock face appearance of the star. These rays became faint and disappeared and this clue is a guide to some plates. Let us suppose that a 1d black shows a ray flaw in the top left star, as this was only found on plates 1A, 1B and 2, then it must come from one of these three. The engravers finally saw what had happened and retouched the dye, so this clue has your black almost plated, but there are other clues, the O flaw, where the O in one of one penny grows a leg, much like a Q in appearance. Plates 7, 8, 9 and 10 have this flaw, it is faint in plate 7 but gets worse in plate 10 and there are three stages of the flaw, known as O flaw 1, 2 and 3. Faint to pronounced as the dye works through the four plates. Plate 11 has a single flaw that sets it apart from the others. A 7 o clock ray flaw in the right star. It is completely missing and very clearly so, it is the easiest and rarest of blacks to plate.
If a stamp is on a dated cover, your chances of finding its plate are even better, if the cover is dated say August 1840, then that black can only come from 1 to 6, as later plates were not set for printing until after this date, if the stamp shows no ray flaws then it must be from plate 3, 4, 5 or 6. Narrowing the field by eye is relatively simple, it is when you want to pin point the plate that you must look closer at your black much closer in fact for fainter, slighter clues are hidden in this most perfect of designs. With a strong glass (a watch makers glass in perfect) and a good light, there are many tiny flaws that show up as pointers to the correct plate. ‘Re entries’. The most substantial variety, where the roller impression on the newly prepared plate was not firm enough, resulting in loss of design. The engravers sometimes rolled the impression over again or re entered the design by hand, engraving or touching up lines or strokes, usually visible in the corner stars, they look hairy or bitty with doubling or odd marks that should not be there. Also marks in the wording and lower squares ‘Guide Lines’. Simply lines scratched on to the plate to guide the dye roller, usually seen horizontally or vertically in the star and letter squares and sometimes through the value wording, fairly clear to see in most cases. ‘Extended Lines’. Going past the design at the corners. ‘Dots and Spots’. Again for guiding purpose in laying the plate. All over the place but generally in or around the letter squares. ‘Double or crooked letters’. A good guide. ‘The colour of the cancel’, red for early plates, black for later plates although all plates can be found in RED and BLACK, but a reasonable guide especially for plate 10, which is rare, with red cancel and plate 11, which is almost always in black.
But to be honest it is impossible for all but the true black specialist to plate a stamp by eye, if you handle them in quantity which is a dream of course we would all like to realise, then with careful study you can plate more or less without turning to the reference works on the subject. If however you have just a few blacks then you will need to get a book and use it with this short guide. Gibbons specialist red book vol 1 is a good aid, although not outstanding. ‘The Postage Stamps of Great Britain Vol 1’ by Seymore is better and if you have both books it is easier. Ormond plating cards in folder give a good break down with most flaws listed, but by far the best book is ‘Guide lines to the Penny Black’ by Litchfield, with almost 100% success every time. Plating the 1d black is not easy but it is a most rewarding and worthwhile pastime that can be polished to a fine art. Plating penny reds is exactly the same but much harder, as instead of twelve plates to choose from, there are over 170, but it is always a delight to turn the page of a collection and see a fine plated set of penny blacks. Yes, very nice indeed.
What is the difference between a penny black sg1 and sg2.
Mine is a non post marked envelope with the one penny black stamped with lower letters (P,A). What’s the price value in it?
hi I have a penny red Victorian with E on all 4 corners would love to know if it has any value regards Patrick [email protected] its for sale if worthy
i have a one penny black philympia 1970 5d is it worth anything?
According to the Scott catalogue, it is worth 20 cents. It was issued to commemorate the 130th Anniversary of the Penny Black, On September 18 1970, to publicize the Philympia 1970 International Stamp Exhibition, held at the Empire Hall, Olympia, London.
I have a super rare penny red dated March 23 1999 and it was mailed in the USA on a letter to Chicago. I have turned down $3500 because I am not an idiot. Do you know what it is really worth?
my family have refurbished old buildings for years, just after WW2 we rebuilt what was a post office upstairs (what was left of it) had a small office and safe. The previous postmaster had told us that the safe hadn’t been used in decades and that the key was never found and the only reason it stopped where it was, was due to the weight.
The safe was extremely decorative so it came back to my grandfathers building yard and stayed there until around 1980 when my father decided it needed to go as we were relocating, curiosity got the better of him and despite back in the day the postmaster being adamant that it would be empty he decided to oxyacetylene it open, there inside were two complete sheets of first edition Penny Blacks! I guess their value would be through the roof, however my dad was an honest man and returned them to the post office, how many of us would do that I wonder
I think your father was too honest to himself. Sheets of 1d Blacks are of immense stamp interest and hugely valuable. What did the person at the Post Office do with the two sheets? Sell them on, destroy them as old & no longer postally valid, or hand them over to the Post Office museum?
I have a Penny Black with the letters GB it is print issue 1A Could you tell me how much it is worth
I have a Penny Black – unused, All four excellent margins mint condition plate 5 letters LR…… how much would this be worth?
Hi dawn can you send a scan of it. And i will plate and value for you. Regards Andy
Hi I have 6 unused Penny Black 5d stamps P in left corner and L in Right corner. Bottom of stamp reads 1840 first engraved issue. Can you please tell me if they are worth anything to a collector?
It depends what plate they come from and their condition. Unused, they could be valuable no matter which plate, but unused from plate 11 will certainly be worth a lot. If they are unused, from plate 11, and have the 7 o’clock flaw and the border gap flaw, they could be worth a fortune.
Thank you for your answer, How can I determine plate 11, and if they have the 7 o’clock flaw and the border gap flaw?
Hi elaine. If you can send through scans etc i will plate and value for you. Regard Andy. [email protected]
When it comes to plating penny blacks I got bored of looking at corner letter alignment tables and came up with a website to do it for me. It only examines the corner letter alignments, so cannot detect the ‘o’ flaw or Ray flaws, but even so, it does help narrow down the possible plates. It is free to use:
Hi the single bottom letters on the 1d red stamp, how does one identify the plate numbers
You don’t say if the stamp is perforated or not. The 1d Red with no perforations and so only letters in the bottom corners came from plates 1-177. The number for this series is not on the stamp itself – it was only in the corner margins of each sheet of 240 stamps. Generally you need to be quite a specialist to plate such a stamp, from the position of the check letters and other tiny differences, but the type of cancel, the shade, the corner lettering type can all narrow down the range.
Hi, i have a Penny Black orginal in good condition with a certiiate of authenticity, however i am unsure of the value and was wondering how or where i go to get it valued after reading the article the stampo is AL, from 1840 that is the most i could tell you at this time, thanks.
1840 Penny Intense Black Plate 5 S.G.1 Lettered F.F What is its value please.
You have only given Clue 2 of the three “Main factors affecting Value” – see above. If you can give other clues (e.g. used or unused; what condition – margins & faults), then someone could give you a more informed view as to its value.
David, You are right to think about condition and its effect on value. A tear, whether or not you can see it from the front, affects the condition & hence its value. A tear that you can see from the front makes a typical stamp worth a small percentage of its value without a tear. But the demand for a Penny Black, even in poor condition, is higher than for a typical stamp. So your Penny Black is not worthless. Enjoy your stamp – it might be worth up to $50.
HI, I have a Penny Red and Black both in good condition, printed from the same plate. Both have letters I & G and have cancellations of black (on red) and red (on black). Registered 22nd April 1840. Any ideas on value?
Vicky, from your description, they come from Plate 2.
‘good’ condition in philatelic descriptions translates to “not very good” in layman’s terms. So perhaps worth GBP£50 for the Black and £25 for the Red, plus say a premium of 10% as a matched pair. So a little under £100 (under US$150).
However if you say good in layman’s terms and that translates to fine in philatelic terms (four margins, no thins or tears, cancels reasonable), then double those prices.
How can I tell what plate printed the stamp I have , thanks
The position of the letters in the bottom two corners is the easiest clue. You can see excellent photos at https://www.spink.com/nissen-reconstructions.aspx
Good luck. However that only differentiates the majority of 1d Black stamps.
Others are more difficult and you need more help. There was a person on eBay who would plate a scan of a stamp for a fee, but I’ve not recently seen his postings for this.
Hi I have one penny Blake stamp with letter Ak 1840 any body can help to know the value
KoKo, If your stamp has 1840 on it as part of the printing, it does not sound like an original 1d Black. A modern stamp that depicts a 1d Black might be worth 10 cents.
If you have identified your stamp as a genuine 1d Black that was printed in 1840 (before a scarce printing in January 1841), then you need to look at the “Main factors affecting Value” section within the opening part of this article.
The values given in the conclusion to the opening part above are from 2009. Values have increased since then. To get to 2016 values, I suggest you add 50% to 75% to the 2009 values.
sir winston can i send a pic for my stamp to see it and tell me couse i dont under stand am sure my stamp are original and thers numbers on the back of stamp 1B, BL
There shouldn’t be any numbers on the back of the stand just a watermark sounds dodgy to me
The 1B on the back could be from someone plating it as Plate 1b. We just don’t have enough relevant information from Koko.
To Koko, no thanks, I don’t want to see a picture of your stamp. Great you are sure your stamp is original. There were over 68 million of them printed and although just a small proportion have survived, it would still mean that I could be inundated with queries and photos.
To anyone who has a question about their 1d Black, I strongly suggest:-
1. You read Daniel Arpin’s excellent opening article first.
2. For the vast majority of 1d Blacks, which are used and not from a scarce plate, condition is the all important factor on value.
3.. If you have an interest beyond pure value (you would have to be lucky to find a 1d Black from Plate 11 at random, but even 400-1 odds means it does very occasionally happen), and are thinking about becoming a philatelist, do try and plate your stamp. In which case first read what Dawn says in her posting of July 3, 2015. To that add the excellent photos (see my posting of May 17, 2016) at https://www.spink.com/nissen-reconstructions.aspx which were only put on-line in 2012, so after Daniel wrote his article.
3. That just leaves values, which have increased 🙂 since Daniel wrote his article. My posting of
May 25, 2016 suggests you add 50% to 75% to the 2009 values.
Anything more specific is probably not for this forum.
Happy stamping everyone.
I’m Tony W. and own a Penny Black. I’s ONE of MANY of the first printed stamps. It’s in good condition in a nice display album with a certificate of authenticity. It’s cool to own and I’m proud. So who gives a damn of it’s monetary value. I don’t. Have a nice day.
Have a penny black with the red cancellation on it. I also have the No.2 that was issued. Can anyone who knows anything about stamps please email me? I have a very large collection and trying to find out more info about it. Can send pics. My email is [email protected]
I have a black penny stamp with the letters P L at the bottom of the stamp its in reasonable condition is it worth anything?
Joanne, Your stamp may be a cut out from the 1970 issue that Britain made for Philympia, from the 5d value. If so your stamp is perhaps worth 1p.
I was thinking of buying a Penny Black to represent the beginning year of my collection. Thank you for your most informative post.
You say that a penny black printed from plate 11 is valuable in any condition.. is it possible for you to define value please ball park figure is fine thank you
Most 1d Blacks from plate 11 are used off cover with a black maltese cross. £750 would be a fair price for a good copy, but an abysmal copy might be down as low as £100 (so my apologies for overstating its potential value), to a superb copy up to say £2000.
I have a philympia one penny postage stamp colour black and left side letter p on the right is the letter L 1840 s first engrave issue. Can you give me an idea of the value please.
Ronald, You must have missed what I wrote to Joanne last October. The stamp you have was issued in 1970. Stanley Gibbons catalogue it at 25p unmounted mint and 10p fine used. Those are SG’s selling prices. As a rule of thumb, the value of a stamp is one third of their catalogue price. So your stamp is worth a few pence / cents.
It’s for sale
I have a penny black with letters E F. Looks in good condition but you can see a.small tear. Is it worthless
Can someone tell me what my penny blacks are
I have a black penny close margins on sides, border line on top with M/I in respective corners. Anyone could help with a value, reply please.
i have been locking and found a old stamp book with a penny black inside of it but it has 24 carrot gold on top of it and i do not know if it is real or just a remade one. i know the gold layer is real and 24 carrot but i was hoping if someone could help inform me if there is a chance if it is real. thanks
These gold stamps are replicates
Hi there I’ve got a penny black stamp with RA on it and it has a red post mark on it so it is used. I don’t know the date, how would I determine if? Also I would love to know the value.
Rachel, Have you looked at the cancellation section near the top of this article? I expect the red post mark you refer to is a red Maltese Cross cancel. Its main use was from issue date of 6 May 1840 until mid-February 1841.
As to value, you will need to read what has already been posted above.
Enjoy your stamp.
Hi Daniel, I have a block of 9 lettered unused stamps. of 3 by 3 penny blacks. nj – nl by nj – pj
certified genuine – how do I get these valued?
I would suggest a reputable auction house
Daniel’s suggestion is excellent. The auction house would probably need to know the basis of valuation you are after. If needed in writing (perhaps for tax or insurance reasons), they are likely to make a charge based on its value.
If genuine – and certificates can be from an other than recognised reputable certifying body or be forged – then the value of your block could well be substantially in excess of £100,000/$100,000, depending on condition.
i have got a block of 6 stamps in mint condition with letters AA AB AC BA BB and BC wht do you reckon it’s worth
I would bet a pound to a penny that what you have is either a facsimile or your email is a spoof. In which case virtually nothing.
I saw in a recent issue of ‘The London Philatelist’ an auctioneer from Germany has offered for sale a Penny Black that is described as “1840, unused official stamp VR”. From the picture publishes alongside it is seen that the stamp carries the the letter ‘V’ and ‘R’ at the top corners left and right corners respectively instead of the normal flower pattern. Can anyone enlighten me what this stamp is.
The VR variation of the Penny Black was intended for use on official government postage and is named for the letters that replace the Maltese crosses in the corners of the stamp.
Thank you very much for the information. I did not recognize the pattern at the top left and right corners as Maltese Cross. I thought the Maltese Cross pattern was used only for the cancellation. Thanks again
Ram, We are sometimes not exact with our comments, and even the cancellation of 1d Black stamps that is universally called a Maltese Cross is not a real Maltese Cross. The usual pattern at the top left and top right of a 1d Black is usually called a star, but in the VR (standing for Victoria Regina – the Latin for Queen Victoria) version the stars are replaced with a V & an R. That version is very scarce.
Daniel/Winston, The pattern at the two top corners of the stamp, and the pattern used for the cancellation, just can not be both Maltese Crosses. They are so different from each other! It is either that only one of them is a Maltese Cross, or neither of them is.
Hi, thank you for such an informative article. I have two questions! One are Penny Black engraving sheets of any value? Two, I’ve a Penny Red which has the letter B in all four corners, is it a genuine one? Thank you for any help!
Jo, On question one, I’m not familiar with the term Penny Black “engraving sheets”. Can you describe this item a bit more – e.g. a facsimile that has been engraved of a complete sheet of 240 stamps at full size? On question two, yes, you have a genuine Penny Red, first used in 1864, SG43, Scott 33.
Thanks Winston 🙂 The engraving sheets are apparently c 1840 Plate Vii 33-35 I’m not sure myself I’ve inherited them with a lot of old stamps. Is there a way to add an image here?
Jo, I think only Daniel Arpin as webmaster (or his staff) can add an image here. But if you post a link to a web image of the engraving sheet, then people will be able to see it.
Hi Winston, I could only think of using Twitter! https://twitter.com/jasmada99/status/947151199689740290
Jo, Your thought worked. They look to be photographs (from a book or auction catalogue) of very rare proofs etc. of the 1d Black and 1841 2d Blue, so of very little value. But if I am mistaken and you had the original stamps, I’d be knocking on your door in no time!
And this is the second one. https://twitter.com/jasmada99/status/947151974335762432
Yes I may not sure I’m buying a house anytime soon 😊
They will look nice in a frame though!
I have a penny black stamp. It has got. C on left and k on right
is it worth anything?
Can anyone give me any information concerning grills on the back of a 1c blue Benjamin Franklin?
Hi Daniel, Nice article. I just purchased a bunch of stamps from a friend. One stamp came in a black box and in that box is a red book that folds open. Inside on the left side is a pouch with the Penny Black stamp in it. The stamp has the been stamped with the red cross. On the bottom of the stamp is a S on left side and a C on the other. The other side of the book is an informative read about The Penny Black. I love it. I can’t find any like it online. Can you tell me anything about my new find? Thanks
Great reticle, I love reading these posts. I have. Penny Red Plate 76 (if only 1 more!) and it has the bottom right hand corner letter H which has been double stamped. Does that make it more valuable and if so would you know a ball park figure? Thank you.
That should say great article! 😊
Another question 🤔 I have a Penny Red with 4 letters in each corner (well it’s got one in the top LH corner but it’s not a very well cut out stamp and so the margins are pretty much non existent. However it’s the watermark that’s interesting. It’s got the large crown with what looks like the small crown on top of it. Have you seen or heard of this before? Thank you 😊
Hi, I have a black penny stamp with letters M on the left and H on the right and stamped with maltese cross, anything you can tell me about it.
Magnús, You will have seen from reading Daniel’s excellent opening article that over 68 million 1d Blacks were printed (from late April 1840 and into early 1841) and there were 240 letterings. So your stamp is one of about 287,000 printed with the MH lettering and will shortly be 178 years old.
I have a black one penny postage stamp with the letters S and C on the bottom corners but it has a white silhouette of the present queen at top r/h corner . Is this a fake?
That is a stamp issued in 2015 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the world’s first postage stamp.
I have a postal cover 1840 penny black red c d s cancellation Warrington Sep 21st letters on stamp K F what is the plate no
Given the date of your cover, it will be one from the range of Plate 1a to Plate 8 inclusive. You will see the registration dates from the Printing Plates part of the initial post, so yours must be before Plate 9.