British Commonwealth

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Collecting British Commonwealth Stamps

In 1840, the United Kingdom was the first country in the world to introduce nationwide postal service. As such, it should be no surprise that the country has a rich philatelic history filled with many notable, rare and collectible stamps. The UK is also remarkable for establishing functioning postal systems in its colonial territories — many of which laid the basis for a national system following independence from the Empire.

Collectible UK Stamps

One of the most collectible UK stamps is the Penny Black, notable for being the first in the world to use an adhesive backing. First printed in 1840, the Penny Black had a value of one cent and featured an iconic profile of Queen Victoria against a black backing. One interesting feature of the stamp with implications for collectors is that each pane was cut by hand, resulting in great variance in consistency.

Penny Blacks with uniform margins are highly prized by today's collectors. However, because of its historically wide circulation, many Penny Blacks do still exist today, making them an excellent first purchase for anyone interested in beginning a collection of rare British stamps.

Other notable British stamps from this period include the Penny Red (the successor to the Penny Black), the two pence blue, the Prince Consort Essay and more. Anyone interested in adding to their collection should speak with the team at Apfelbaum, Inc. directly for information about upcoming sales.

British Colonial Stamps

Collecting rare British Commonwealth stamps is another popular hobby that combines history with philately in fascinating ways. At its peak, the British Empire spanned over 33 million square kilometers and included territories in North and South America, Africa and the Middle East. Stamps from former colonies are known as “dead country stamps” and are highly prized by collectors. In fact, as of 2014, the most valuable stamp ever sold was the British Guyana 1 cent magenta — the only existing copy was sold at auction for an estimated $9.4 million.

Apfelbaum, Inc. frequently has rare British Commonwealth stamps for sale in our Stamp Store from all corners of the globe. Check out our next Public Auction or browse our Stamp Store to see what’s available.

Learn more about the British Commonwealth and its postal history.