No one could suggest in a distant 1840 that the stamp, released in a great quantities - 75 million copies - will become a rarity. We will talk today about the very first two stamps in the world - "Black Penny" and "Two Penny Blue". In this case exactly - about the full list of the "Black Penny", which was accidentally discovered in the archives of Sir Rowland Hill. Now, this unique, single sheet is kept in the British Royal Collection. Only occasionally it is shown in the major international and world wide philatelic exhibitions.
A complete sheet of the "Black Penny" consists of 240 stamps, 20 horizontal rows of 12 stamps in the line, which makes one pound - a very large sum for it's time. Perhaps it was this exactly fact, that kept buyers away from it's acquisition. How miraculously survived a full list? Now we can only guess: it was found stuck on the wall of the post office. And, despite all precautions, that were made with it's division, the attempt to preserve the original adhesive layer unfortunately failed.
Here one can not help to remember that in April 1840, just a few days before the official release of the "Black Penny" on sale, printers of the firm "Perkins, Bacon & Petch" complained in an interview for a local newspaper: "For five days we have been applying the adhesive layer on the stamps and the challenges that we face, defy any description." The main component of the adhesive was a mixture of potato and a wheat starch with a carpenter's glue. However, despite all the difficulties, the work was performed superbly by the printers... to the chagrin of the next generation of collectors, who can not hide their regret, that the world's only first sheet of stamps, was not only devoid of adhesive layer, but also has a damaged paper in some places: so good was finally the glue!
English are very fond of their history and they carefully preserve their traditions. For example, in the philatelic collections of the British Museum, there are carefully stored not only the marks of postal payment themselves, but also many items, related to postage stamps. There is preserved even the machine, where were published the first British postage stamps. There was a message in the philatelic press that even the scissors, which were used to separate the "Black Penny" from the list, are also stored in the museum.
Author of the "Black Penny" - artist B. Cheverton, who proposed the reproduction of the engraved portrait of Queen Victoria, also brought the idea to put down a miniature alphabetic codes at every stamp - that would define the location of each of them in the printed sheet.
For example, a stamp with the letters C and H was located at the intersection of the third horizontal and eighth vertical rows. "Black Penny" was printed by eleven plates. The author and the publishers were justifying this idea by the fight against counterfeiters, believing that it would be rather difficult to fully replicate the printed form, and the frequent occurrence of individual stamps or couples with the same letters would reveal the fraud.
"Black Penny" became a hero of hundreds of articles and books. Indeed, it is a unique item and a true pride of the most famous stamp collection in the world.