Norvic Philatelics

175th Anniversary of the Penny Black stamp

The world’s first adhesive postage stamp, introduced as part of sweeping postal reforms and known as the Penny Black, became valid for postage on 6 May 1840. The stamp cost a penny and prepaid postage up to half an ounce in weight to anywhere in the United Kingdom. A higher-denomination stamp, costing two pence, which came to be known as the Twopenny Blue, prepaid postage up to an ounce.

Royal Mail is celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black and the Twopenny Blue by issuing a miniature sheet that includes images of the two stamps, each one appearing twice, with 1st class values. The miniature sheet border features a photograph of the printing presses at Perkins, Bacon & Petch, who printed all the original stamps.

In 1837, teacher and innovator Rowland Hill wrote a pamphlet entitled Post Office Reform; Its Importance and Practicability, in which he proposed sweeping changes. He recommended that postage should be reduced to a uniform one penny, based on weight rather than distance, and it should be prepaid. Merchants supported Hill’s ideas and set up a committee to campaign for cheap postage. Henry Cole became its secretary, producing a newspaper called The Post Circular to publicise the merchants’ aims. The campaign was successful, and an Act was passed in 1839 to introduce Hill’s reforms.

1st class Penny Black stamp. 1st class 2d blue stamp. The two new stamps.

The stamps are only being produced in the products shown here - gummed miniature sheet, self-adhesive retail booklet, and self-adhesive generic sheet. 

They will not be available in Post Office Counter Sheets.  The stamps most likely to be seen on social and business post will be those from the retail booklet.

On the 1d black the corner letters are SC, and on the 2d blue QB.  It has been suggested that SC = Stamp Collecting or [Royal Mail] Stamps and Collectables, but no explanation had been forthcoming got QB.
175th Anniversary of the Penny Black stamp Miniature sheet.
Let me know
when this
page changes

it's private
powered by
Retail booklet of 6 x 175th Anniversary of Penny Black stamps.
These are images of the actual miniature sheet and booklet.

The self-adhesive booklet contains 6 x 1st class Penny Black stamps.
  These have no security features.  The cylinder numbers are W1 buff, W1 black, and W1 phosphor.

Penny Black 2d blue generic smiler sheet.
Generic Smiler Sheet
This sheet contains both 1st class Penny Black and 1st class 2d blue stamps.

Both stamps are available for the Business Customised Sheet service (available to producers of premium-priced sheets, usually A4 with fully illustrated borders and a variety of labels).  Only the Penny Black stamp is available in the Smilers Personalised service in sheets of 10 or 20. There is a precedent for this in the 2010 'All Occasions' sheet.

(Click on the image to see a larger example.  Unfortunately both suffer from yellow colourisation in the scanning process.)

Technical details:
All stamp products are printed by International Security Printers.  The miniature sheet is printed in lithography, with stamps 20 x 24 mm in a sheet 144 x 74 mm.   The booklet is printed in gravure at the ISP (Walsall) works.  The generic sheet is almost certainly printer by ISP (Cartor) in France. 

All stamp and postmark images are Royal Mail copyright 2015.

Products available

Miniature sheet       Retail booklet        First Day Cover     Presentation Pack         Generic Smiler Sheet
Set of 3 Stamp Cards     Penny Black Medal Cover    Press Sheet of 15 miniature sheets

At the London 2015 Europhilex stamp exhibition another version of the miniature sheet will be available in a pack for £4.95. 

Intended to visitors to the show, 7500 miniature sheets have been produced with an additional inscription (described erroneously as an overprint) around the stamps, and each sheet is numbered in a box below the London 2015 Europhilex logo.main caption.  An unspecified quantity (a fraction of those asked for) has been provided to dealers for sale. with priority given to dealers attending the show, and for production of first day covers.  Of the remainder, a number (again unspecified) will be available from the Royal Mail stand for each day of the show, with more being available to customers on day 1 who have paid for entry.  Dealers' allocations can only be collected in person from the Royal Mail stand at the show, none will be available from Royal Mail's philatelic bureau at Tallents House Edinburgh.

Contrary to what dealers had been told earlier, the sheets will go on sale at 10 am, with none held back for those travelling on the day and not arriving until noon.  There will be a limit of 3 sheets per person across the duration of the show.

Any sheets which remain unsold on Saturday towards the end of the show will be sold without restriction.  The quantity produced may exceed the number of unique show visitors, but it is far too small to satisfy the worldwide demand for British stamps and dealers were advertising, a month before the show, buying prices at more than double the Royal Mail cost.   

One sheet has already been pre-sold on eBay for a Buy-It-Now price of £100.

An unspecified number of postcards showing this sheet will also be available at the show, priced 45p.  The cards are not individually numbered, and although the sales will not be restricted in the same way as sales of the sheet are, dealers have been told that they can only buy the same number of cards as they have been allocated sheets.

This is a mock-up of the special miniature sheet:

Mock-up of Exhibition overprint miniature sheet.

Special Postmarks available on the day of this issue are be shown here. These images may not be to scale; more may yet be announced.

Tallents House first day postmark for penny black miniature sheet. Bath first day postmark for penny black miniature sheet. Bath non-pictorial first day postmark for penny black miniature sheet. Bath Maltese Cross postmark. Victoria Square Birmingham postmark showing profiile of Queen Victoria.
Ref FD1514TH - Official Bureau postmark Ref FD1514PL - Bath Ref FD1514NP Bath non-pictorial official Postmark Ref W13411  Bath Somerset Ref M13405
Victoria Square Birmingham

Postmarks for FD of Penny Black stamps.

Postmarks showing printing press and postbox plate.

Ref L13395 - Perkins Bacon & Petch, Fleet Street, London Ref L13396 - Uniform Penny Postage, 175th Anniversary, London EC1 Ref L13397 - Jacob Perkins D Cylinder Printing Press, London L13393 - 175th Anniversary Penny Black, London Ref L13394
175th Anniversary of the Penny Black, Post Office Letter Box No 1, London
Postmarks showing Maltese Cross postmark, and Queen Victoria.
Postmarks showing early Postbox, and Britannia.
Postmark showing Sir Rowland Hill.
Ref L13413
London EC1
Ref L13414
London NW1
Ref L13415
London EC4
Ref L13416
London WC1
Ref M13431 Kidderminster
Special postmark illustrated with Maltese Cross. <<<<<<

Ref L13442
175th Anniversary of
The Penny Black
London EC1A
Europhilex postmark.

Ref L13418
London N1
In use only 13 May 2015.

If you wish to be told when this page is updated, please use the ChangeDetection panel alongside the stamps.
If you have any questions about these stamps, please email us.

This page updated 1 May 2015

Keep up to date on our blog
Home Page and index for 2015
Visit our online shop!

Norvic Philatelics, PO Box 119, Dereham, NR20 3YN, GB.
UK Phone: 08450 090939 -- Skype:ian.billings-norvic
-- email:

Instant Printing Prices from Webmart