Penny Black First Day Covers
Wednesday 6 May 1840

Taken from May Dates by Mike Jackson FRPSL
(revised for this Web site)

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A-E rows  F-J rows   K-O rows  P-T rows

This was the first day that the Penny Black was valid for postage (together with the Twopenny Blue and Mulreadys). As the stamps were officially issued on 1 May 1840, it is not the first day of issue but rather the first day of official use. Some of the 86 covers and pieces listed here are of doubtful authenticity. Of those which seem genuine 71 have recorded towns of origin: 52 are from London, 7 from Liverpool, 10 from the rest of Britain and 2 from Scotland.

AA 1, Plate 1a, London to Thame, Oxon.
‘LS’ MC d.s.
VES, 11 Nov. 1987, Lot 301 (£17,000 ?, no est.) ‘the first stamp from the first plate’

AA 2, Plate 2, Bishops Waltham to Andover.
Bishops Waltham c.d.s. next to the stamp (which is stuck to the left of the address).
SG, 12 Feb. 1987, Lot 1498 (£1,100, est. £550) ‘good margins all round’.
PT, Autumn Stampex 98 (price £25,000).
BEHR, p.t. catalogue for PhilexFrance 1999
Brandon cert. (1986) ‘Stamp lifted, ironed and replaced. Non-contemporary ink stroke at top of stamp’.
The letter is headed ‘Bishops Waltham 6th May 1840’.

AB, Plate 1a, London to Stratford-on-Avon.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
RL, 6 Mar. 1963, ‘Bostock’, Lot 11 (£124, est. £70) ‘fine with good to large margins nicely tied to large part cover’.

AC 1, Plate 1a, London to Dunse.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
RL, 27 Mar. 1957, Lot 183 (£23, est. £20) ‘very close but nicely tied to a rather damaged cover . . . dated inside and by the receiver’
RL, 12 Apr. 1967, Lot 524 (£105, est. £60) ‘cut close . . . the entire is slightly torn’
CPH, 11 Mar. 1980, Lot 1838 (SFr8,500, est. SFr3,000) ‘small margins . . . stamp removed and replaced and cover also showing tear in upper part’
CHR, 6 Nov. 1990, ‘Sir Leonard Atkinson’, Lot 41 (£6,050, est. £2,500) ‘close even margins . . . E.L. has two repaired tears (one behind adhesive) and a vertical crease.’
The contents are an account for a butt of sherry wine.

AC 2, Plate 1a, London to Rochdale.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s. Adhesive tied by ‘Marshall St.’ s.l. in black.
HAR, 29 June 1970, Lot 35 (£300, est. £100–125) ‘small margin at top, large margins other sides . . . The letter is rather damaged, creased and soiled at places’
SG, 8 Nov. 1973, Lot 301 (£1,050, est. £750) ‘adhesive lifted and replaced’
P, 25 Nov. 1982, Lot 64 (est. £500–800) ‘good margins . . . E.L. With creases and is split and reinforced along folds, some soiling, the adhesive is slightly rubbed and has been lifted and replaced’
CHR, 9 Nov. 1994, ‘Nigel Howard’, Lot 1005 (£12,650, est. £6,000–8,000) ‘adhesive slightly close at top, otherwise with good margins . . . stamp with staining reduced, the entire letter toned and with some reinforcement, the lower flap with faults’
CHR, 17 Dec. 1996, Lot 274 (unsold, est. £8,000–10,000)
SP, 11 June 1997, Lot 57 (est. £5,000–6,000)
BPA cert. (1970).
RPSL cert. No. 139789 (1987) ‘Genuine. Stamp has been lifted and replaced’
The letter includes a postscript: ‘what think you of sticking plaster for a penny postage?’

AC 3, Plate 2, from London
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
HR, 3 Feb. 1938, ‘E. H. Williams’, Lot 134 (no est.) ‘a very fine copy’

AD, Plate 1a, London to Birmingham.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
HAR, 1 Dec. 1993, Lot 391 (£6,600, est. £1,500) ‘the EL dated clearly inside . . . the stamp with large margins on three sides, just touched at lower-right, the EL with heavy vertical filing fold, soiling and strengthened splits, otherwise fine.’

AE 1, Plate 1a, Liverpool to London.
Liverpool ‘E’ code c.d.s. Two strikes of the MC. Morning duty ‘B’ code c.d.s. for 7 May.
HAR, 27 May 1968, Lot 12 (£650, est. ?)
HAR, 7 Nov. 1989, ‘Wills’, Lot 59 (£33,000, est. £15,000) ‘A-E (double letter), large margins, well tied by two strikes of the Maltese Cross’
BPA cert. (1989)
The letter includes ‘having been presented with some penny stamps I think it quite my duty to prepare a letter for the first day they will be useful’.

AE 2, Plate 2, Nottingham to Standard Mill.
Nottingham c.d.s.
Private collection, 1995

AH, Plate 1a, Bridport to Yeovil.
Bridport c.d.s.
HAR, 15 Oct. 1973, Lot 126 (£130, est. £100–150) ‘on outer letter sheet . . . good to large margins, has at some time been partially removed and reaffixed, becoming badly creased and with a piece of the surface missing at bottom, tied on three sides by postmark and now has heavy finger print at bottom left. The letter sheet with unclear red “BRIDPORT/MY ?/1840” pmk. and MS. filing note dated 6th May 1840’
The Harmers 15 Oct. 1973 catalogue stated that this was in a recently-discovered solicitor’s correspondence, all addressed to Yeovil. In their opinion ‘it would not be possible for an Expert Committee to give a definite opinion . . . although from a new find of correspondence’.

AK, Plate 1a, London to Great Marylbone Street.
Octag. ‘8NT’ d.s.
BL, Fletcher Collection, Vol. 148, p. 25.
The letter is dated ‘6 May 1840’. The adhesive is tied with a red MC and an unclear s.l. in black.

AL, Plate 1a, London to London.
‘T.P/Mount St.GS’Octag. ‘4Eg’ d.s.
CHR, 7 May 1992, Lot 1087 (£16,500, est. £6,000–8,000) ‘AL grey-black (showing moderate plate wear), fine, affixed centrally . . . The adhesive may have been lifted for examination’
BPA cert. (1976).

BD, Plate 1a, Liverpool to Dublin.
Liverpool ‘K’ code c.d.s.
SG (Frankfurt), 18 Apr. 1979, Lot 17 (DM61,000 = £15,410, est. DM20,000).
The June 1979 issue of Philatelic Magazine stated ‘An 1840 G.B. Penny Black on a first day cover sent from Liverpool to Dublin made the record price of £15,410 (61,000 DM) — three times the estimate — at Gibbons’ Frankfurt Auction in April.’

BF, Plate 1a, London to Paisley.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s. Tied by two red MCs.
CHR, 3 June 1994, (£9,200, est. ?) ‘vertical filing crease has been removed and the address restored’
SHR, 23 Sept. 1995, ‘Robert J. Cooley’, Lot 179 (no est.) ‘exceptionally well margined . . . Dated in Manuscript on back flap “London 6 May 1840” which is overstruck by clear “B/My-6/1840” London cancel, accompanying 1995 BPA certificate states “ . . . Genuine, address partially restored and soiling along vertical filing crease reduced . . . ” which, in our opinion is negligible and professionally done’
BPA cert. (1995).

BG, Dundee to London.
Boxed Dundee d.s. Edinburgh morning duty ‘Z’ code c.d.s. for 7 May.
MOH, 23 June 1965, Lot ? (est. ?).

BH, Plate 1a, London to Birmingham.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
RL, 10 Feb. 1970, Lot 21 (£450, est. £75) ‘very fine, lightly cancelled’
CHR, 5 June 1990, Lot 108 (£9,350, est. £6,000) ‘very light horiz. crease and E.L. a little discoloured at right’
BPA cert. (1970).
This cover has the same address as Penny Black, 6 May 1840, lettered PA, but not the same handwriting. The code on the c.d.s. on BH is ‘C’ while on PA it is ‘B’.

CB, Plate 1a, Brighton to London.
Brighton c.d.s. Morning duty ‘A’ code c.d.s. for 7 May.
CHR, 21 Feb. 1989, Lot 2090 (£1,980, est. £1,000) ‘wide margins and superbly cancelled on piece . . . piece and adhesive creased’.

CJ 1, Plate 1a, London to St Paul’s.
Octag. ‘4Eg’ d.s.MC cancelling ‘2’ h.s. in black‘ T.P/Norwood EO’.
RL, 7 Oct. 1970, Lot 1019 (£380, est. £200) ‘fair only used on the flap’.
Illus. in PJGB, June 1971, p. 52.
BPA cert. (1953).
The article in the June 1971 issue of the PJGB says: ‘a practical example of prepayment and charge together on one cover is illustrated by [this cover]. The 1d black was stuck on the back of the cover. It was not noticed at first and the front was impressed with the black handstruck “2” charge mark. This was covered with a Maltese Cross cancellation to cancel the charge when the 1d black was discovered. This use of the obliterator used to cancel the adhesive to delete a charge wrongly raised or a paid mark (PD in an oval or circle) wrongly impressed was standard practice’.

CJ 2, Plate 1a, London to Hinckley.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
RL, 7 Mar. 1951, ‘Sugden’, Lot 278 (£70, est. £50) ‘early impression, fine used’.
HAR, 16 Mar. 1964, Lot 165 (£135, est. £60–70) ‘Stamp has faint corner crease and is a little stained’.
BPA cert. (1951).

DC, Plate 1a, London to Congleton.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
RL, 19 Nov. 1974, ‘Victoria’, Lot 1 (£1,900, est. £1,000) ‘very fine on entire (part of Eagle Life Assurance form)’.

DD Plate 2 on 1d Mulready A1, Liverpool to Castletown, Isle of Man.
Liverpool ‘D’ code c.d.s. MS ‘2d Paid’ in magenta.
CHR, 16 Jul. 1985, ‘Noel F. Heritage’, Lot 9 (£12,420, est. £10,000) ‘four margined . . . flaps a little damaged, the adhesive has probably been pressed’.
An advt for this sale (GBJ, Vol. 23, No. 3) stated that this item was ‘recently discovered’.
Illus. in British Pictorial Envelopes of the 19th Century by Bodily, Jarvis and Hahn, 1984, p. 17. ‘The only recorded copy of a Penny Black used on a Mulready on the first official day of use . . . Hassan Shaida collection’.
Illus. in GBJ, Vol. 28, p. 31 (1990).
Illus. in Genesis, published in Italy.
Although the copyright date of the book British Pictorial Envelopes of the 19th Century is given as 1984, the Foreword and Preface are both dated late 1985 so chronologically the CHR sale of 16 July 1985 preceded the completion of the book.

DF, Plate 1a, London to Basingstoke.
‘LS’ MC d.s.
RL, 17 May 1944, Lot ? (£45, est. ?).
HAR, 16 Apr. 1956, Lot 13 (£63, est. 40) ‘on single letter sheet and well tied. The stamp has clear margins all round but is slightly creased’.
SH, 6 June 1959, Lot ? (est. ?).
RL, 30 Oct. 1963, ‘Burrus’, Lot 22 (£70, est. £60) ‘Crossed by fold at top’.
Canadian collection, 1995.
Illus. on p. 156 of The Postage Stamps of Great Britain 1661–1942, 2nd edn, pub. Robson Lowe, Jan. 1943.
BPA cert. No. 48951 (1964) ‘creased’.
APS cert. No. 85849 (1993) ‘file fold’.

EA, Plate 1a, Bath to Wells.
Bath ‘E’ code c.d.s.
RL, 6 Nov. 1957, Lot 396 (£37, est. £40) ‘used across flap of cover . . . a little discoloured but clearly tied in red’.
BPA cert.
The Bath ‘E’ code c.d.s. has the ‘0’ of ‘1840’ missing — cf. 2d Mulready a210 used on 6 May.

EI, Plate 1a, London to Exeter.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
RL, 17 Nov. 1938, Lot 1 (£22, no est.) ‘fine copy but has had crease ironed out’.
HAR, 12 Nov. 1974, Lot 62 (£575, est. £300–400) ‘margins all round, tied by red Maltese Cross cancellation (heavy filing crease through stamp)’.
CHR, 5 Oct. 1995, ‘Tes’, Lot 193 (est. £3,000–4,000) ‘Large margins . . . horizontal filing fold crosses adhesive, slightly cracking surface but otherwise fine.’
Illus. in Guide Lines to the Penny Black by Litchfield, p. 21.

EK+HF, Plate 1a, London to Halifax.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
HR, 3 Feb. 1938, ‘E. H. Williams’, Lot 10 (no est.) ‘both stamps are very fine and lightly cancelled’.
RL, 17 Nov. 1964, Lot 61 (£155, est. £100) ‘both with full margins’.
RL, 13 Jan. 1970, Lot 77 (£540, est. £500) ‘EK fine except for small fault at top right and HF very fine’.
HAR, 21 Nov. 1984 [?], Lot 1265 (£9,350, est. £10,000) ‘E-K (small surface abrasions at top right), close to good margins’.
SHR, 15 Mar. 2001, ‘Dr Pichai Buranasombati’, Lot 37 (est. £15,000-20,000) ‘(clearly dated inside) . . . EK with large to clear margins and HF has large even margins but small split at top from cover tear (also splitting at joins there) . . . [the c.d.s.] has been slightly improved for appearance sake’.
RPSL cert. (1998).

GE, Plate 1a†, Cork to Dublin.
Cork c.d.s. Boxed ‘PAID/ MY 7/1840’.
RLPH, 2 Apr. 1958, ‘Dr J. Stafford Johnson, Dublin’, Lot 143 (est. £100) ‘fine . . . worn impression’.
Ex W. Knox Collection.
BPA cert. No. 33741 (1958), signed by Robson Lowe and Arthur Ginn.
The cover bears a MS ‘1’ (1d paid in cash) and the adhesive is not tied to the cover.

GI, Plate 1a, London (on piece).
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
Merkur (Germany), 1971, Lot 2676 (est. DM5,000).
RL, 20 Nov. 1974, Lot 1011 (est. £450) ‘fine used on piece . . . just tied. R.P.S. certificate stating “The piece is genuine and the stamp may have been used on it, but the proof is lacking through the weakness of the tie”. With respect, in our opinion the stamp is clearly tied by the indentation of the cancellation and the percolation of the linseed oil (with which the cancelling ink was made) through the paper. We guarantee it to be genuine’.
RL, 15 Apr. 1975, Lot 57 (unsold, est. £350).
RPSL cert. (see RL’s description, above).

HD, Plate 2†, London to Tewkesbury.
Evening duty ‘D’ code c.d.s. ‘T.P/Pall Mall’.
RL, 26 Sept. 1951, Lot 103 (est. £45) ‘very fine example . . . clearly and centrally cancelled and is not tied’.
RL, 12 Apr. 1978, Lot 212 (unsold, est. £2,000) ‘large margins on all sides . . . untied . . . the c.d.s. is crossed by a tear’.
Postal History Society cert. (1945).
A. Diena cert. (1968).
The c.d.s. on this cover is distorted, and given that the evening duty codes for 6 May were ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’, it is probable that the date is 16 May when the codes were ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’.

HG, Plate 1a† on 1d Mulready A141, London to Montrose.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s. Edinburgh morning duty ‘H’ code c.d.s. for 8 May. ‘T.P/Holloway Rd’.
RL, 19 Jan. 1966, Lot 512 (£180, est. £100) ‘A141 very fine . . . HG (cut into at top)’.
P, 3 Nov. 1994, Lot 830 (£44,700, est. £40,000–50,000) ‘1840 1d. plate 1b [sic] HG large margins three sides, just touched along top, tied’.

HH, Plate 1a, Edinburgh to Dunse.
Edinburgh ‘PAID AT EDINR’ night duty ‘N’ code c.d.s. on front. MS ‘1’.
RL, 28 Nov. 1940, Lot 2 (est. £30) ‘good copy . . . margins on all sides and large at top . . . cover is also dated the 6th on the inside’.
RL, 10 Feb. 1971, Lot 1155 (£420, est. £400) ‘fine used’.
Unidentified German auction, Lot 142: description states that the stamp does not belong.
Although tied, the adhesive may not belong because the cover bears a MS ‘1’ (1d paid in cash) together with the ‘Paid at Edinburgh’ c.d.s.

HK, Plate 1a, London to Carlisle.
‘EX’ code general c.d.s.
RL, 27 Mar. 1980, Lot 53 (£4,000, est. £2,000) ‘very fine, the datestamp is weak but legible and the letter is dated inside in manuscript’.

IE, Plate 2†, London to Worksop.
Evening duty ‘A’ code c.d.s.
CHR, 27 June 1985, ‘Griffiths’, Lot 4099 (SFr25,875, est. SFr12,500) ‘three wide margins, just shaved at right, part of flaps torn away clear of c.d.s.’.
This cover bears the only recorded use of the ‘A’ code evening duty c.d.s. I have recorded, except for a forged cover which bore a Penny Black Plate 5 — see the section on postmarks.

IG-IH, Plate 1a, London to Oxford.
‘EX’ code general c.d.s.
RL, 23 July 1980, Lot 11 (£420, est. £400) ‘a four margined pair used on part entire (180 x 96 mm.) . . . torn, stained and affected by heat, a tragedy’.

IJ, Plate 1a, London to Fenchurch Street.
Octag. ‘6Ev’ d.s. ‘T.P/Queen . . .’
HAR, 9 May 1960, ‘W. S. Davy’ (£77 10s, est. ?).
RL, 12 Apr. 1967, Lot 525 (£260, est. £100) ‘very fine on large clean entire’.
HAR, 29 June 1970, Lot 52 (£500, est. £400–500) ‘good margins . . . horizontal fold well clear of stamp’.
MERC, 7 May 1984, Lot 357 (est. DM30,000).

IL 1, Plate 1a†, London to Lothbury.
Octag. ‘4Eg’ d.s. ‘T.P/Gt. Portland St.’
CHR, 23 Sept. 1986, ‘Robert Cole’, Lot 15 (£8,800, est. £3,000) ‘very fine’.
P, 2 Nov. 1994, ‘H. Reck’, Lot 349 (£19,000, est. £9,000–10,000) ‘fine used’.
This cover was in the small collection formed by Robert Cole and endorsed by him ‘The first day of use of postage stamps’. Robert Cole was a solicitor at 11 Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street in 1839. By 1840 he had moved his office to 14 Token House Yard in Lothbury (the address on the cover). His collection was first described in the PJGB, March 1972.

IL 2, Plate 1a, Petworth (?) (on piece).
Petworth c.d.s.
Private Collection, 1996.
RPSL cert. No. 135334 (1986) ‘it is considered this date has been faked’.
On small piece. Small part of ‘. . . DEN . . ./M . . .’ c.d.s. and a Petworth c.d.s. on what would have been the back. Small part of a Penny Post h.s.

JA 1, London to Dundee.
‘LS’ MC d.s. Edinburgh morning duty blank code c.d.s. for 8 May.
SG, 15 Sept. 1976, Lot 149 (£950, est. £1,200) ‘fine impression, large to very large margins, tied . . . two vert. creases (one of which runs through adhesive, the other through despatch h/s)’.
SG, 2 Mar. 1977, Lot 147 (£700, est. £900) ‘large to very large margins . . . two vert. creases (one through adhesive)’.
SHR, 26 Sept. 1996, ‘Unicover Corporation Museum Collection’, Lot 1 ($16,000, est. ?) ‘extraordinarily well margined single featuring four uncommonly large margins . . . the cover is a complete folded letter (invoice) datelined “London 5 May 1840” . . . two normal and neat vertical filing folds (one of which passes through and creases the stamp)’.
BPA cert. (1977).
In September 1996 Shreves sold a collection of mostly USA first day covers from the Unicover Corporation’s museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA. This cover was one of the few non-US items. The 14 October 1996 issue of the American magazine Stamp Collector stated that the material had ‘been on display at corporate headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyo., and is faded by light to varying degrees from long-term exposure’. It is not known if this Penny Black cover was affected.

JA 2, Plate 1a.
RL, 15 Dec. 1948, Lot 102 (est. £5) ‘Plate 1a . . . JA medium impression . . . large margins’.
The RL sale catalogue of 15 Dec. 1948 had the following note: ‘We are not entirely convinced that this is May 6th — it may be an error of date for the 26th’. Unfortunately the cover was not illustrated.

JK 1, Plate 1a.
RL, 17 Nov. 1938, Lot 2 (no est.) ‘stamp . . . has been cut from cover and replaced’.

JK 2, Plate 1a, London to Hastings.
‘T.P/Holloway Rd.’
SP, 16 Dec. 1998, Lot 32 (£2,500, est. £3,000–4,000) ‘mourning entire . . . margins three sides (just clipped at base), affixed over the top of manuscript “May 6/40” (in the same hand as address) . . . reverse with faint but discernable London despatch datestamp with “6” day slug just visible; self-adhesive tape repair to perimeter split at top permeating the paper’.
BPA cert. (1999)

KA on 1d Mulready A27, London to Westerham.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s. ‘T.P/??hampton??’.
RL, 21 Dec. 1955, ‘Cowan’, Lot 82 (£75, est. £60) ‘very fine [adhesive]’.

KD, Plate 1a†, Montrose to Prestonpans.
Montrose c.d.s. Stamp tied by two strikes of the MC.
CHR, 15 Jan. 1985, Lot 33 (£3,996, est. £2,000) ‘filing crease . . . three large margins, manuscript date within and superb Montrose c.d.s. for May 6 on reverse (across flap)’.
GC, 13 Feb. 1992, ‘Shaida 1’, Lot 99 (SFr15,000 = c. £6,375, est. SFr7,500) ‘3 big margins, 4th cut into badly . . . creased wrapper with perfectly clear B/s Montrose’.
The adhesive is placed at upper left of the cover and is tied by two strikes of the Maltese Cross.

KF, Plate 1a, Halifax to Bradford.
Halifax c.d.s.
Illus. in Genesis, published in Italy.

KL, Plate 1a.
RL, 25 Oct. 1966, Lot 423 (£24, est. £25) ‘fine on part entire which shows an arrival date-stamp of 1840 (7th May), so was probably posted on 6th May’.

LA, Plate 1a, to London.
RL, 24 Sept. 1947, ‘Dr C. Heygate Vernon’, Lot 26 (£12 10s, est. £25) ‘worn impression, cut at top right . . . used on entire dated May 6th, 1840 (twice in MSS.) and clear London datestamp of the following day’.

LL, Plate 1a, London to Burnley.
Burnley c.d.s.
SG, 28 Sept. 1978, ‘Nissen Stock’, Lot 18 (£725, est. £250) ‘good margins . . . addressee’s name deleted and some creasing whilst the adhesive is defective’.

MF, London to Wells.
Evening duty ‘Z’ code c.d.s. ‘Albany St.’ d.s.
S, 10 Apr. 1986, ex Lot 640 (unsold, est. £2,000–2,600) ‘good margins, tied . . . faint “T.P./Albany St.” alongside the adhesive and below that a light file crease, clear May 6 c.d.s. on reverse and pencilled initials H.F.J(ohnson); also a single 1d. red-brown from the black Plate 2 lettered MF’.
S, 2 Apr. 1987, Lot 127 (£506, est. £100–150) ‘good margins, tied . . . light file crease, clear code “z” May 6 c.d.s. on reverse and pencilled initials of H.F.J(ohnson), manuscript receipt “27th May 1840” on the flap; B.P.A. Cert. 1986 states “. . . an error for ‘MY 26’”’.
HOI, 12 Nov. 1997, Lot 2108 (Kr85,000 = c. £7,000, est. Kr10,000 = c. £825) ‘on reverse Z MY 6 1840 (first day of use)’.
BPA cert. No. 19,424 (1986) (but see note below).
When this cover appeared at Sotheby’s in 1986, estimated at £2,000–2,600, the manuscript endorsement ‘27th May 1840’ on the flap was not mentioned in the catalogue description. The subsequent BPA certificate of the same year stated ‘In the light of present knowledge of the use of Code letters in date-stamps (“Z”) and in view of the manuscript notation of receipt as “27th May 1840” it is likely that the date-stamp is an error for “MY 26”’. The evening duty codes for 26 May were ‘Z’, ‘A’ and ‘B’. The cover was sold again at Sotheby’s in 1987, this time estimated at £100–150, where it realised £506. Ten years later in Denmark, the cover was sold by Høiland but the catalogue description made no mention of the manuscript endorsement ‘27th May 1840’ nor the BPA certificate of 1986 so perhaps the flap had been removed and the certificate not submitted with the item.

ML, Plate 1a, London to Hull.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s. Two MCs cancelling adhesive.
HAR, 7 Mar. 1960, ‘Clayton’, Lot 12 (£65, est. ?).
P, 2 Nov. 1994, ‘Durham’, Lot 3 (£28,000, est. £10,000–12,000), ‘fine used’.
SA, Advt in SG Concise Catalogue 1995, ‘Recently purchased on behalf of a client’.
SP, 8 May 1997, ‘Lou Manzi’, Lot 564 (£25,300, est. £20,000–25,000) ‘fine used with ample to large margins . . . minute surface scuff in margin only at upper right, mentioned as a corner crease on B.P.A. Certificate (1996)’.
BPA cert. (1996).

ML, Plate 1a on 1d Mulready A172, London to Binfield, Bracknell.
CAV, 11 Jan. 1975, Lot 400.
SG, 23 Oct. 1975, Lot 194 (£2,250, est. £2,250) ‘on opening, seal torn away’.
RPSL cert. 87724 (1974) ‘Genuine — stained’.
The December 1975 issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly illustrated this cover with the following caption: ‘A Penny Mulready envelope bearing a Penny Black, which was posted on 6 May, 1840, was bought for £2,250 at Stanley Gibbons’ Great Britain auction in London in October by Myron Kaller, a philatelic consultant of New York. He says he has been searching for an example of this rarity for years and that the envelope will go on display at Barclays Bank, New York City, from December’.

ML, Plate 1a on 1d Mulready, London to Exeter.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s. ‘T.P/Grays-Inn’.
Illus. in The Philatelist, May 1951, p. 237.
RL (Zurich), 25 Nov. 1981, Lot 610 (est. SFr12,500) ‘ML used on (not tied) Mulready letter sheet (Stereo number removed during opening) . . . a little creased (one crosses adhesive) and a little surface rubbing’.
This cover was used as an illustration in the long-running series ‘My Post Office Journal’ by Rowland Hill in The Philatelist (on p. 237 of the May 1951 issue). The caption read: ‘A May 6th Mulready showing Britannia cancelled and a penny black correctly placed’. The cover was sold without the adhesive in 1982 — see Penny Mulready U1.

NB, Plate 1a, from London.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
RL, 25 Jan. 1950, Lot 169 (£16 10s, no est.) ‘fine used . . . the address has been cut from the cover. There is a letter of favourable opinion from the late Chas. Nissen attached’.

NC 1, Plate 1a, Bungay to London.
Bungay c.d.s.
PTT Museum, Bern, Switzerland.

NC 2, Plate 1a, Liverpool to Manchester.
Liverpool ‘K’ code c.d.s.
CHR, 15 Dec. 1992, Lot 2102 (£8,500, est. £7,000–8,000) ‘good to large margins, neatly tied . . . part of addressee’s name crossed through in ink and small portion around seal cut away on reverse . . . fine and attractive’.
David Holl Collection, 1995.
BPA cert. No. 30,122 (1956).

NE, Plate 1a, London to Andover.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
RL, 17 Nov. 1938, Lot 1a (£30, no est.) ‘superb example of LE . . . used on a fine cover. This lot will be illustrated in the November issue of “The Philatelist”’.
RL, 17 May 1944, Lot ? (£47 10s, est. ?).
RL, 16 Mar. 1955, ‘Stranack’, Lot 49 (£67 10s, est. £50) ‘NE medium impression, very fine, large margins and clear datestamp’.
The RL 17 Nov. 1938 description referred to a stamp lettered LE. This was a mistake in the catalogue and the photograph in The Philatelist is clearly of NE.

NI, Plate 2, London to Burnley.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
HAR, 16 May 1949, Lot ? (£67 10s, est. ?).
GC, 13 Feb. 1992, ‘Shaida 1’, Lot 145 (SFr29,000 = c. £12,325, est. SFr20,000) ‘good margins. Lightly creased Wrapper . . . very fine’.
SG advt Spring Stampex 94 cat. (price £13,000).
HOI, 12 Nov. 1997, Lot 2107 (Kr145,000 = c. £16,500 (? see below), est. Kr150,000) ‘Adressee’s name erased and rewritten . . . very fine and well-preserved’.
BPA cert.
Thomas Høiland published a realisation of £16,500 for this cover in their advertisement in the September 1998 issue of Stamp Magazine.

NK, Plate 1a, Liverpool to Abergavenny.
Liverpool ‘L’ code c.d.s.
Royal Philatelic Collection

NL, Plate 1a†, Reigate to London.
Reigate c.d.s. in red. Morning duty ‘A’ code c.d.s. for 7 May.
HAR, 8 Jan. 1951, ‘Sugden’, Lot 19 (£65, est. £65–70) ‘extremely fine . . . large margins . . . large part entire’.
RL, 25 July 1951, ‘Sugden’, Lot 74 (est. £50) ‘medium impression, fine and clearly cancelled used on cover (almost complete)’.
RL, 6 July 1955, ‘Ross-Hurst’, Lot (£52 10s, est. £30) ‘very fine and lightly cancelled on the S.W. corner of a cover . . . Ex Sugden’.
P, 9 Dec. 1988, Lot 196 (£5,000, est. £5,000–6,000) ‘large part lettersheet . . . good margins and placed at the lower left corner of the cover, not tied . . . but in our opinion undoubtedly belongs’.
RPSL cert. (1987) ‘Genuine as far as one can say’.

OA, Plate 1a, from London.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
RL, 27 Mar. 1957, Lot ? (withdrawn, est. £35).
RL, 1 May 1957 (withdrawn, est. £35) ‘fine and lightly tied to piece . . . clear but rather watery c.d.s.’
The evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s. looks very ‘wobbly’ in the RL 1 May 1957 catalogue illustration.

OD 1, Plate 1a, London to Leominster.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
RL, 15 Feb. 1956, ‘Adams’, Lot 57 (£75, est. £50).
HAR, 29 May 1961, ‘Dr Chan Chin Cheung’, Lot ? (est. ?).
S, 13 Oct. 1988, ‘Beresford’, Lot 110 (£17,600, est. £10,000–12,000) ‘good to large margins and lightly tied . . . the letter is clearly dated May 6 . . . an exceptionally fine example’.

OD 2, Plate 2, Bristol to London.
Bristol c.d.s. Morning duty ‘E’ code c.d.s. for 7 May.
P, 27 June 1975, Lot 113 (est. £750) ‘used first day of issue . . . good margins on three sides, just trimmed at lower right, also affected by cover creases’.
SG, 20 June 1986, Lot 2324 (est. £500) ‘shaved to large margins . . . tiny ink mark in top margin, light horiz. crease through adhesive and light soiling’.
RPSL cert. (1975) ‘genuine so far as one can say’.

OE, Plate 1a, London to Bedale.
‘LS’ MC d.s.
P, 7 Apr. 1994, Lot 126 (£14,000, est. £10,000–12,000) ‘good to large margins . . . pressed filing crease just affecting stamp otherwise fine’.
BPA cert. (1993).

OK, Plate 1a, Bristol to Bath.
Bristol ‘E’ code c.d.s.
MOH, Oct. 1977, Lot 1516 (est. DM8,000).
Ex. W. Knox Collection.
This cover was discovered by Peter Mollett at Stanley Gibbons.

OL, Plate 1a, from London.
‘T.P/Berners St.’
RL, 21 Apr. 1948, Lot 93 (£100, est. £70) ‘superb early impression . . . backstamped and endorsed May 6th’.
HAR, 30 Oct. 1961, Lot ? (£90, est. ?).
BPA cert. No. 10,647.

PA, Plate 1a, London to Birmingham.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
RL, 25 Sept. 1946, Lot 97 (£65, est. £40) ‘fine used . . . slightly cut into at right . . . backstamped May 6th, 1840, and the letter is headed with the same date’.
SW, 21 Mar. 1980, ‘Poutiainen’, Lot 13 (est. £10,000) ‘two good margins, one close, one cut into’.
S, 11 May 1989, Lot 1 (£4,180, est. £3,000–4,000) ‘margins large two sides, just touched on third and cut-into at right . . . dated internally’.
James Grimwood-Taylor Collection, 1995.
This cover has the same address as Penny Black, 6 May 1840, lettered BH, but not the same handwriting. The code on the c.d.s. on BH is ‘C’ while on PA it is ‘B’.

PB, Plate 1a, London to Cavers.
‘LS’ cross d.s.
RL, 27 Mar. 1957, Lot 193 (est. £7) ‘a fine copy with large margins three sides nicely tied to a rather soiled cover with undoubted “MY 6” on the back flap, the year date having been only partly struck because of contact with the seal’.
CHR, 12 Dec. 1989, Lot 105 (£2,860, est. £500) ‘PB re-entry’.
P, 20 Mar. 1997, ‘Wade’, Lot 23 (unsold, est. £15,000–18,000) ‘close to enormous margins . . . [cover] few imperfections otherwise fine’.
Various notes on face including ‘Circular from the London Misy Socy’ and ‘The first Postal Stamp that ever reached Cavers 8th May 1840’. Cavers is in Roxburghshire.

PD+QD, Plate 2†, London to Whitby.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s. ‘STRAND.D’ s.l. on front.
HR, 10 Nov. 1947, ‘Charles Williams’, Lot 72 (£38, est. £20) ‘one very fine, other slightly cut into’ [no mention of crease].
RL (Zurich), 25 Nov. 1981, Lot 620 (est. SFr10,000) ‘PD recut letter square . . . PD clear to large margins, clear profile, QD three wide margins, touched at left, both are a little creased, and soiled’.
DF, 29 Nov. 1982, Lot 10060 (est. SFr20,000) ‘both adhesives lightly creased and QD just touched’.
GC, 13 Feb. 1992, ‘Shaida 1’, Lot 146 (SFr19,000 = c. £8,075, est. SFr10,000) ‘margins generally good, apart from touching at Q square. Lightly creased’.
CHR, 5 Oct. 1995, ‘Tes’, Lot 194 (£24,150, est. £8,000–10,000) ‘Margins all round except QD just touched at lower left, both crossed by filing crease that slightly cracks the surface’.
SHR, 15 Mar. 2001, ‘Dr Pichai Buranasombati’, Lot 67 (est. £18,000-22,000) ‘both sharp impressions indicative of the early printings, mostly good to large margins (QD very close at lower left corner) on . . . entire letter (minor splitting at joins), tied by Maltese Cross in red . . . a barely perceptible horizontal filing creases [sic] crosses the stamps and cracks the surface . . . almost certainly unique double rate first day cover from Plate 2’.
BPA cert. No. 14,404 (1984).
Diena cert.
In the 15 Mar. 2001 sale catalogue of Dr Pichai Buranasombati's collection, Shreves describes this cover as an ‘almost certainly unique double rate first day cover from Plate 2’, despite another (RE-RF) being recorded in my book May Dates which was published in 1999.

PG, Plate 1a.
RL, 20 Feb. 1941, Lot 19 (est. £16) ‘large-margined . . . on clean cover which is dated inside 6th May, 1840, the name of the addressee has been cut’.

QD, Plate 1a, Liverpool to Liverpool.
‘K’ (?) code c.d.s.
RL, 4 Nov. 1959, ‘J. de R. Phillp’, Lot 17 (£32, est. £30) ‘fair copy . . . rather faint but clear Liverpool c.d.s. . . . part of the address chemically removed’.

QJ 1, Plate 1a, Cirencester to Edinburgh.
Cirencester c.d.s. Morning duty ‘C’ code c.d.s. for 7 May. Edinburgh ‘W’ code c.d.s.
SG, 5 Feb. 1970, ‘Maximus 1’, Lot 133 (£725, est. £550) ‘very large margins, tied’.
P, 22 Sept. 1983, ‘Fisher’, Lot 41 (£5,200, est. £3,000–4,000) ‘fine with good margins . . . envelope is just a little soiled and central stain from a wax seal’.
GC, 13 Feb. 1992, ‘Shaida 1’, Lot 100 (SFr34,000 = c. £14,450, est. SFr20,000) ‘4 good margins . . . envelope with light central mark from seal’.

QJ 2, Plate 1a, London to Norwich.
‘LS’ MC d.s.
HAR, 9 Nov. 1970, Lot 19 (£525, est. £450–500) ‘large margins . . . the cover a little damaged at front but nevertheless a fine cover’.
HAR, 10 June 1981, ‘GL’, Lot 14 (£14,000, est. £20,000) ‘crisp impression, good to very large margins, tied . . . includes a separate invoice dated May 5 for Port at £1 12s. per dozen from Sandeman, Forster & Co.’
BPA cert. (1971).

QK, Plate 1a, from London.
Octag. ‘2AN’ d.s. ‘T.P/Maddox St.’
RL, 13 June 1972, Lot 94 (£180, est. £200) ‘fine with large margins used on somewhat tatty piece’.
HAR, 12 Mar. 1987, Lot 1510 (£1,100, est. £250) ‘good to large margins, on large piece . . . adhesive tied by slightly smudged red Maltese Cross, small closed tear and traces of soiling but otherwise fine’.
RPSL cert. (1972).

QL, Plate 1a, London to London.
Octag. ‘6Ev’ d.s.
HAR, 8 Jan. 1951, Lot 18, ‘Sugden’ (£77 10s, est. £65) ‘fine copy with margins all round showing portion of adjoining stamp at left . . . well tied’.
SH, 6 June 1959, Lot ? (est. ?).
RL, 30 Oct. 1963, ‘Burrus’, Lot 26 (£130, est. £60) ‘clear impression, just touched at right, very fine used’.

RE, Plate 1a, from London.
BPA cert. No. 22,264.

RE-RF, Plate 2†, London to Norwich.
Evening duty ‘J’ code c.d.s.
SG, 17 May 1984, Lot 194 (est. £12,000) ‘clear to very large margins . . . RF has small scissor cut in “R” square but showing clearly the re-cut letter square (S.G. Spec. AS15d)’.
Illus. in Genesis, published in Italy.
This is the only example of a 6 May 1840 evening duty c.d.s. with code ‘J’. According to the system of coding, the codes for 6 May were ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ and this use of code ‘J’ on 6 May cannot be explained at present. Code 'J' was used on 9, 19 and 29 May 1840.

RL 1, Plate 1a, from London.
‘T.P/Regent St. NO’.
HR, 3 Feb. 1938, ‘E. H. Williams’, Lot 115 (no est.) ‘on complete cover . . . the stamp is superb in every respect and is the variety RL, without ray flaw’.
RL, 30 May 1940, Lot 2a (est. £40) ‘RL, a very fine example used on a superb cover . . . perfect example . . . with the Royal Philatelic Society’s certificate’ (presumably the same cover?).

RL 2, Plate 2, London to Thornbury.
Evening duty ‘C’ code c.d.s.
SG, 23 Mar. 1993, Lot 1774 (£8,800, est. £5,000–6,000) ‘good to very large margins and tied by a faint strike of orange-red M.C. . . . flap bears a faint but legible strike of MY 6 1840 despatch c.d.s. which opens well to display; not trusting the glue, the stamp has been additionally fixed with a piece of sealing wax; two horiz. filing folds, one through adhesive, barely detract’.

RL 3, Plate 1a, London to Darlington.
HAR, 27 Sept. 1995, Lot 465 (£5,588, est. £5,000) ‘Three clear to large margins, cut into at foot . . . a fine House of Commons red wax seal.’
E. Diena cert. (1990).

SA, Plate 1a, London to Whitehall.
Octag. ‘8NT’ d.s.‘T.P/Cornhill’.
P, 18 June 1987, ‘DS’, Lot 55 (£460, no est.) ‘unfortunately the original adhesive has been removed and a fine 1d . . . which almost matches with the original M.C. has been added’.
Ex Robert J. Cooley Collection (not in 23 Sept. 1995 sale).

SC 1, Plate 1a, London to Nottingham.
‘LS’ MC d.s.
SG, 21 Feb. 1968, Lot 19 (£590, est. £120) ‘large margins and showing portion of adjoining stamp at right’.
Illus. Bolaffi advt. on p. 48 of Stamp World London 1990 exhibition catalogue.
Illus. in ‘Victoria Regina 1840’ by L. N. Williams in Victor Victoria, Bolaffi, 1990, p. 20.
RPSL cert. (1948).
This cover is a mourning envelope with the typical black border.

SC 2, Plate 2, London to Foulby.
Octag. ‘8NT’ d.s. Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
HAR, 7 Mar. 1960, ‘Clayton’, Lot 82 (£105, est. ?).
NPM, R. M. Phillips Collection (V/1).
Illus. in International Encyclopedia of Stamps (pub. IPC), p. 841.

SD-TH, Plate 1a, London to Kirkcudbright.
‘LS’ MC d.s.
HAR, 27 May 1968, Lot 13 (£4,800, est. ?).
Exhibited in Court of Honour, Stamp World London 1990.
DF, Nov. 1991, Lot 80018 (unsold, failed to reach the reserve, est. ?).
SG, 24 June 1998, Lot 30 (£220,000 plus 15% buyer’s premium, est. ?).
Ex Stanley F. Cohen Collection.
Acquired by the Royal Philatelic Collection, 2001.

The cover was acquired by the Royal Philatelic Collection in 2001. An announcement issued late in 2000 by the Press Secretary to The Queen said ‘The envelope bearing the stamps is being purchased from Stanley Gibbons Ltd, having been available to the intemational collector market. The purchase of the envelope, worth £250,000, is be funded by the sale of surplus duplicate material from King George V’s collection at public auction. Independent advice is being taken to ensure that the duplicate material being sold to fund this purchase can be disposed of without detriment to the collection. The resulting funds will be used to purchase the envelope and any arising capital gains tax; any surplus will be spent on further enhancing acquisitions.’

In GBPS Newsletter 241 (Sept./Oct. 1996, p. 3) Stanley Cohen wrote of this cover: ‘has been in my sole possession since it was found in 1968’. He also stated in the same article that the asking price (for a private sale) was £250,000; that a report in The Philatelic Exporter that the asking price was £500,000 was untrue (and retracted); and that the report in the Evening Standard that it had been sold to an American investor for £500,000 was also untrue. Writing in the February 1989 issue of Stamp Mail Stanley Cohen stated that ‘the owner of the famous block of ten on first-day cover has twice refused offers of £200,000 for it’. A Stamp ’96 press release said the cover was ‘discovered in the office of a Scottish solicitor in 1968’ but the Philatelic Magazine of 7 June 1968 stated that ‘the cover belonged to 79-year-old Thomas Tait, a retired architect of Kirkcudbright, to whom it was bequeathed about ten years ago’. Writing in the 13 July 1998 issue of Linn’s Stamp News, Rob Haeseler wrote ‘Gibbons auctioneer David Crocker told Linn’s in a phone interview that he opened the bidding at £190,000, and 45 seconds later hammered the lot down to a telephone bidder. Crocker said the cover was bought by a “stamp investment fund in Britain.” Asked how many such funds exist in Britain, he said, “It’s the only one I know”.’ The August 1998 issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly stated ‘it is also the largest known multiple to have survived on cover used on any date’. It may be one of the largest, but is not the largest: a strip of ten Penny Blacks from Plate 5 on cover was Lot 246 in the CHR ‘Daisy’ sale, 8 Oct. 1996.

(Above) as the cover appeared in the SG sale of 23 Oct. 1975.

(Above) as the cover appeared in 1995.

SL, Liverpool to London.
c.d.s. over stamp.
RL, 23 Jan. 1963, Lot 50 (£9, no est., only a question mark!) ‘SL double bottom, a defective example . . . cancelled partly by red M.C. and partly by red “PAID” c.d.s. of May 7th, another adhesive has been removed’.
SG, 23 Oct. 1975, Lot 208 (£200, est. £80) ‘corner defective and another stamp removed’.
Unidentified New York auction house, 5 May 1993.
HOB, 14 June 1995, Lot 24711 (est. DM30,000 = c. £14,000).
HOB, 17 Oct. 1995, Lot 17050 (est. DM30,000).
HOB, 7 Jan. 1998, Lot 34324 (est. DM28,000).
Zeev Barak Collection (exhibited at Israel ’98).
RPSL cert. No. 160,167 (1993).

When this cover was auctioned by Robson Lowe in 1963 the NW corner of the stamp was defective and another stamp, which had been stuck alongside, was missing. Some time around 1994 the stamp was repaired and the incomplete Maltese Cross (which originally also cancelled the missing stamp) was removed. Patrick Pearson, describing this cover in a short piece ‘Caveat Emptor 2’ in the December 1998 issue of The London Philatelist, said ‘it is a May 6th cover which was on show at the recent Israel 98 exhibition which had lost part of a Maltese Cross obliteration and grown a new corner since 1993 when it was expertised (certificate 160167); it now has a new certificate from a German proofer which does not record these alterations’. This cover was also described in an article ‘Vanishing and Appearing Tricks’ by Gavin Littaur in the April/June 1997 issue of The Philatelist–PJGB. It also appeared in an article ‘Wondrous Transformations’ by Dr Albert Louis and Karl Louis in the first issue of Fakes Forgeries Experts, compiled and published by Paolo Vollmeier, 1998. In this article, Karl wrote ‘since 1995, without reference to the manipulation, the letter could be seen on several occasions in German auctions. And again the lot description refers to a current expertization certificate not mentioning the manipulation’. Mr Zeev Barak, FRPSL, in his Israel ’98 exhibit, reasonably suggests that the red Maltese Cross applied to the stamp at Liverpool was too fine, so the London office made sure the stamp was cancelled by adding the ‘PAID’ datestamp. The second strike of this datestamp could simply have been the clerk making sure it was legible. Unfortunately this does not take into account the missing stamp and postmark. If this is the reason for the ‘PAID’ datestamps, why did the missing adhesive not receive a ‘PAID’ stamp as well? The illustrations in Karl Louis’ article ‘Wondrous Transformations’ suggests that there may have been only one strike of the Maltese Cross on the cover, so an alternative explanation is that the pair of adhesives was cancelled contrary to official regulations (i.e. only one Maltese Cross instead of two) and the ‘PAID’ stamp was an attempt at correcting the mistake.

TA, Plate 1a, London to London.
Octag. ‘6Ev’ d.s. ‘T.P/Grays-Inn’.
RL, 11 Apr. 1951, ‘Seymour 1’, Lot 88 (£90, est. £55).
RL, 16 Nov. 1960, Lot 44 (£74, est. £50) ‘TA (worn impression) very fine used’.
Gavin Littaur Collection, 1997.

TG 1, Plate 1a, London to Newport Pagnell.
Evening duty ‘B’ code c.d.s.
NPM, R. M. Phillips Collection (IV/3).
Illustrated in The British Postage Stamp of the Nineteenth Century, p. 69.

TG 2, Plate 1a.
HAR, 27 Feb. 1967, Lot 40 (£32, est. £30–40) ‘margins all round, small rubbed spot at top, tied to slightly damaged letter with red Maltese Cross pmk., the letter from which part of the address has been cut out, is dated in MS “5 (in error and altered to “6”) May” (the seal obliterates the year) endorsed by the receiver “7th May 1840”’.
SP, 16 Dec. 1998, Lot 33, ‘H. C. Gubbins’ (£650, est. £1,000–1,200) ‘entire with message inside headed “Cloak Lane 6 May” and referring to legal documents that were enclosed and annotated by recipient indicating action taken on the 7th and 8th of May, the address panel (addressee’s excised and panel later filled with piece of blank paper) bearing 1d. plate 1a, TG, margins all round, lightly cancelled and tied by red Cross, no other postal markings but the reverse showing pencil “Guaranteed May 6th 1840” and signed “Robson Lowe”’.
BPA cert. (1966).