William Blenkinsop Penny Black Cover: Did It Become The Most Valuable British Stamp?

William Blenkinsop 2nd May 1840 Penny Black Cover
William Blenkinsop 2nd May 1840 Penny Black Cover Showing Sotheby's Estimate

Back in January I penned a short news item about an extremely rare piece of postal history that was to be auctioned by Sotheby's (New York) in their The One auction (today 2nd February '24). 

In the short article about this Penny Black on Cover, known as The William Blenkinsop 2nd May 1840 Penny Black Cover, I said "this has the potential of becoming the most expensive Penny Black ever sold - and possibly the most expensive British stamp too!"

All the information led to this becoming a sale of historic proportion. The auction estimate was staggering!

The estimate was a whopping $1.5 million and $2.5 million, or about £1,170,000 - £1,960,000 in British money!

I had to do a little digging, to confirm my initial gut reaction on the magnitude of the potential value. And it became plainly obvious, with the auction estimate, this stamp could possibly squeeze it's way into the Top 10 List of most valuable stamps in the world ever. It could also become known as the highest price a Penny Black has ever sold for, and further, the most valuable British stamp ever publicly sold!

To take the coveted spot of most valuable British Stamp the Blenkinsop Penny Black Cover had to better the Penny Red Plate 77 (SG43) which sold for £550,000 in 2012 by Stanley Gibbons.

On paper, and in theory, and going by the Sotheby's estimate, it looked like a no-contest. All that was needed was one legitimate bid near the lower estimate of £1.17 million and this cover would have doubled it's closest competitor.

The William Blenkinsop 2nd May 1840 Cover failed to sell. Going by the auction results at the time of writing.

It's now become a companion of The Penny Black Wallace Document, which failed to make it's £4-£6 million estimate back in December 2021.

And that is the game of trying to selling anything so unique, not just rare philatelic items, but auctioning anything of exceptional nature!

That's auctions for you, and nothing is certain until the gavel slams the block! 

But that's not to say this is not a rare item, it surely is. Or that it's not worth the low 7 figures the auctioneers' estimated.

Maybe the right buyer wasn't bidding, or maybe the estimate was too high? Or maybe there was an issue with the details of this item? At the moment we don't know for sure. Should it come to auction again then maybe we'll get a better idea.

Happy Collecting, Dan!




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