OK, a lifetime ambition realised. I've no idea why it took me so long.
I am now the owner of a Penny Black, the most renowned of all postage stamps (remember them?). It was issued in 1840 and bears a likeness of the young Queen Victoria. And it was the first postage stamp, establishing what remain the key elements of the Royal Mail and most other postal services, that the sender meets the cost of postage (before stamps were introduced it was the receiver) and that there's a standard charge, based on weight and size, for any domestic destination.
As a youngster I collected stamps, and I dreamt of having a Penny Black. In my dreams, I would hold the stamp firmly in my hand - imagining this at least made it possible that I would wake up with the prized item still in my grip. My parents once bought me as a present a Twopenny Blue - of similar vintage - which was very nice, and I still have it. But it doesn't quite have the magic of a Penny Black.
The stamp was not perforated but cut out of sheets - so, many have no or irregular margins. This is a nice one with all four margins in place. The Penny Black was withdrawn after a year or so because its black colour made it difficult to see whether the stamp had been franked and many were improperly reused. The Penny Red took its place (and is much more common), and the colour of the frank was changed from red to black.
This Penny Black is on a small size envelope and bears the frank date of 14th December 1840. I wonder if it originally contained a Christmas card? It was sent to Miss Goodbehere in Highbury, an address not all that far away from where I live.
All that makes me even more pleased to have achieved a childhood ambition.
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