We get offered a lot of stamps in the shop, and turn most of them down. The stamp market is such that there is no real call for First Day Covers, schoolboy collections or, indeed, most stamps we are offered. We even turned away a Penny Black the other day. As you can see from the link – they printed 68,808,000 of them and many used examples were saved. They were hand cut from unperforated sheets and only ones that have been well cut, with four even margins, are really worth anything. They frequently sell for under £30 on eBay, with several under £20. It’s not much for a cultural icon. (On the other hand, Stanley Gibbons have a nice one for sale at £250,000. Well, I assume it’s nice for quarter of a million.)
The ones we buy are the Presentation Packs. We then break them up and use them on parcels. As long as they are priced in decimal currency you can still use them. You can even use the ones priced in 1/2p denominations even though we stopped using the 1/2p coin in 1984.
It can take a while sorting all these stamps and working out the postage, as you can see from the accompanying pictures. It’s good for your mental arithmetic, if nothing else.
The first perforated stamps were Penny Reds. They were originally issued to replace Penny Blacks in 1841, and continued until 1879. In the beginning they needed cutting like the Penny Black but in 1854 they were issued perforated for ease of use.
1854 – we couldn’t run an efficient army nursing service but we could perforate stamps…