Legendary stamp secured by Stanley Gibbons The philatelist’s Holy Grail, a single example of the elusive ‘plate 77 Penny Red’, has been acquired by rare stamp and prestige collectibles dealer Stanley Gibbons
News-Antique.com - Feb 07,2012 - With millions of collectors worldwide religiously checking every Penny Red they come across for the magic combination of two sevens, rare stamp and collectibles dealer, The Stanley Gibbons Group plc, has announced that it has acquired an example of this philatelic Holy Grail– the legendary ‘Plate 77 Penny Red’.
The stamp carries a price tag of £550,000 - making it the most valuable single stamp that the world’s oldest stamp dealer has ever offered for sale.
"This example has graced some of the finest stamp collections ever formed and is not only a magnificent exhibition piece but one of the great rarities of Great Britain and World philately" said Vince Cordell, Director of GB Philately at Stanley Gibbons.
Stable-mate to the famous Penny Black, millions of Penny Reds were printed but the perforations would not line up correctly on the printed sheets produced by certain plates so they were never "put to press". As a result Penny Reds from plates 69, 70, 75, 77 and 128 should not exist. However, a tiny handful of plate 77 Penny Reds did find their way into public domain by mistake making them the ultimate prize for a collector;
“To date, four mint and five used examples have been reported, although some have not been seen for so long their authenticity is unconfirmed and often doubted” said Cordell.
Of the four mint examples, one is in the Royal Philatelic Collection; one in the Tapling collection in the British Library; one in the Raphael collection that was stolen in 1965 and has not been seen since; the fourth in the famous Ferrary collection that was sold in the 1920s, its authenticity has never been confirmed and again has not been seen since the auction.
Of the five used examples, two damaged examples were found in the early 20th Century, neither of which has been seen on the open market for over 50 years. A third was in the "Crocker" collection and lost in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and a fourth example from the "Adams" collection is now in the British Library.
The fifth example, offered for sale by Stanley Gibbons, is unquestionably the finest used example in existence inside or outside a museum and is realistically the only one that will ever be available on the open market.