A buyer who has chosen to remain anonymous has purchased a 1872 Shield Reverse Sovereign die and the ever sought-after Penny Black.
The sale occurred on the 16th of June 2017, and the customer flew in internationally to view and purchase the item.
The Penny Black is, of course, famous for being the world’s first adhesive postage stamp. As an artefact that set the precedent, it also marked the beginning of a young Queen Victoria’s reign.
Majestically featured on the Penny Black, she inherited the crown of a country with innovative potential but with significant troubles. The new world called for creative energy and new thinking. Fortunately the new monarch’s subjects embodied these traits.
One of the more instrumental traits was the entrepreneurial spirit shown by the inventor of the Penny Black, Rowland Hill. An “exceptional man” by all accounts, he had shown his inventiveness in various avenues: running his father’s school, in his leisure as a fine artist, as well as in social reform.
Hill turned his attention to reforming the Post Office and came up with a bold new system: send a letter anywhere in the UK for the cost of a penny. His proposal came to the attention of the Postmaster General, and it is said that in this interaction sprung the idea for “a small adhesive label that could be struck on an envelope to indicate pre-payment”.
Although criticized by some experts of the day, he had backing from other prominent entrepreneurs; most notably receiving the support of Henry Cole, who (among other things) invented the Christmas card. With this ambitious group leading the charge, Parliament ordered Hill’s new postal system to be put in place with Hill to head the operations.
After calling for a national design competition, the winning design eventuated through a collaborative effort. On 20 February 1840, the Queen approved the completed design and by the 6th May, they were on sale.