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1841 Imperforate Penny Red World first stamp Queen Victoria Authentic Plate FK

1841 Imperforate Penny Red World first stamp Queen Victoria Authentic Plate FK

Penny Red Queen Victoria issued in 1841

Imperforate Authentic, original old stamp

The 1d Red was a development of the Penny Black with the colour being changed from black to red so that the new black Maltese Cross cancellation could be clearly seen.

One Penny Red issued in 1841 to replace the Penny Black (the first issue with perforations from 1848)

In the early years, from 1840 until 1850, all stamps were issued imperforate, and had to be cut from the sheet with scissors or knife.

Plate configuration: FK

The upper corners were occupied by stars.
Each stamp had unique letters AA, AB etc. in its lower corners, so that its position on the plate could be identified:
Plate configuration
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The world's first adhesive postage stamp

The Penny Black and Red were the world's first adhesive postage stamps used in a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on 1 May 1840, for official use from 6 May of that year and features a profile of the Queen Victoria. All London post offices received official issues of the new stamps but other offices throughout the United Kingdom did not, continuing to accept postage payments in cash only for a period. Post offices such as those in Bath began offering the stamp unofficially after 2 May 1840. The colour was changed from black to red because of difficulty in seeing a cancellation mark on the Penny Black; a black cancel was readily visible on a Penny Red.

Penny Red Queen Victoria

The Penny Red was a British postage stamp, issued in 1841. It succeeded the Penny Black and continued as the main type of postage stamp in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1879, with only minor changes to the design during that time. The colour was changed from black to red because of difficulty in seeing a cancellation mark on the Penny Black; a black cancel was readily visible on a Penny Red.

Initially, some of the same plates that were used to print the Penny Black were used to print the Penny Red and about 21 billion Penny Reds were printed by Messrs. Perkins, Bacon & Co. Initially, the stamp had no perforations, and had to be cut from the sheet using scissors in the same manner as for the Penny Black and the early printings of the Two pence blue. Perforations, (experimental gauge 16), first came into use in 1850 and were officially adopted in 1854 (in the same size as the experimental issue). The experimental issue can be distinguished from the general issue as the later was applied to stamp which used a different alphabet type for the letters in the lower corners. Each stamp has unique corner letters AA, AB, AC ... AL etc., so its position on the plate can be identified.
In January 1855, the perforation size was changed from 16 to 14 as it was found that the sheets were coming apart too easily. The reduced size allowed the sheets to remain intact until pressure was applied to force the separation.
The stamps were printed in sheets of 240 (20 rows of 12 stamps), so one row cost 1 shilling and a complete sheet one pound. This, 240 stamps per sheet, configuration continued with all British postage stamps issued until 1971 when decimal currency was introduced when the sheet size was changed to 200, (20 rows of 10 stamps) making the lowest value denomination (half penny) one pound per sheet.

Henry Archer

In 1847, Henry Archer of the United Kingdom constructed the first (rouletting) machine, the "Archer Roulette", to separate stamps. His plan, submitted to the Postmaster General on 1 October 1847, was referred to the departments of the General Post Office and the Inland Revenue. Two such machines were built. After experimentation both machines proved to be failures. From one machine a few stamps from Plates 70 and 71 have survived. This machine consisted of lancet-shaped blades working on a fly-press principle and piercing the paper with a series of cuts.

Archer then abandoned this approach in favour of perforation, a process which used rows of small round pins to punch out the holes. In 1848 Archer patented his perforation machine which worked on the "stroke" principle. The arrangement of the pins enabled the top and sides of each stamp across the row to be perforated in a single operation, and this became known as "comb" perforation. Perforation trials were conducted in 1849 and 1850 under the auspices of the British Government and stamps from these trials were first issued towards the end of 1850. The Archer machine proved the viability of the process but never entered service. Archer's patent for his perforating machine (no. 12,340 of 1848, dated May 23, 1849) was purchased for £4,000 in June 1853.[1] New machines based on Archer's principles were constructed by David Napier and Son Ltd; these were initially used in October 1853 for revenue stamps and from January 1854 for postage stamps.


  • 10 February 1841 - first issue: colour of 1d stamp changed from black to red-brown.

  • 24 February 1854 - perforations 16 introduced.

  • January 1855 - perforation size changed from 16 to 14.

  • 15 May 1855 - watermark changed from small crown to large crown.

  • 1858 - letters in all four corners, colour lake-red

  • 1 April 1864 - letters on all four corners and plate number engraved on each stamp from plate 71 onwards.

  • 27 October 1879 - last plate (225) put to press.

  • 3 December 1879 - contract to print the Penny Red formally ended.

The Jacob Perkins' press, that printed the Penny Black/Red and the 2d Blue, in the British Library Philatelic Collections.






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1841 Imperforate Penny Red World first stamp Queen Victoria Authentic Plate FK

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