One of the world’s first postage stamps is to be auctioned for an estimated £6 million.
The Penny Black was introduced in 1840 and brought in a flat rate for sending letters.
Until then, the recipient paid the cost of delivery.
Henry House, of Sotheby’s in London, said:
“This is the first ever stamp, the precursor to all stamps, and unequivocally the most important piece of philatelic history to exist.
“Though there are many hugely important stamps in collections both public and private around the world, this is the stamp that started the postage system as we know it.”
The stamp is one of three Penny Blacks from the very first sheet printed .
The other two are in the British Postal Museum.
The Penny Black for sale is attached to a document dated April 10th, 1840, and signed by Robert Wallace – a postal service reformer.
The stamp’s owner Alan Holyoake, said:
“The fact that Wallace signed, dated and issued his note… gives support to the fact that this is the very first example of a postage stamp, which of course every country now uses.”