The famous Penny Black’s lesser-known sibling, the softening blue-ish hue of the Two Penny Blue is regrettably overlooked by casual stamp enthusiasts.
The world’s second official pre-paid postage stamp – also known as The Two Pence Blue – was produced only two days after the first plate of Penny Blacks and shares the exact same design of the more wider known stamp.
The design, based on the head of Queen Victoria, sculpted by William Wyon, was created using a sketch made by Henry Corbould when the queen was only 15 (extracted for the City Medal, commemorating Queen’s visit to London in November 1837). The Penny Black and Two Penny Blue image of Queen Victoria would remain on the stamps for the entirety of her reign, embalming her as a fresh-faced and pristine teenage princess.
...only small quantities of the stamp were ever produced...
Forever in the shadow of the Penny Black, the Two Penny Blue was also out of luck with its designated use case, issued as it was to cover postage on packages weighing over half an ounce (14grams). The Two Penny Blue rarely felt the crisp – and rather wet – embrace of a weighty parcel, owing to the fact that sending such items through the post was a limited occurrence in the early days of the reformed postal service. Therefore, only small quantities of the stamp were ever produced and copies of the Two Penny Blue are ten times rarer, with twice the catalogue value, than its more historic sister, the Penny Black.
The first edition, from 1840, is by far the most sort after and valuable. The largest known surviving 38-stamp block of the Plate 1 printing of the 1840 the Two Penny Blue was sold in mint condition to famous stamp collector King George V in the 1920s. The emperor-king was purchasing a stamp adorned with the profile of his grandmother, during whose reign he was born. A curious family heirloom for sure.