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The first-ever mail sent using a stamp is up for auction and could fetch up to $2.5 million

The mail delivery system was finding it hard to cover its costs but the introduction of stamps solved the complex issue.

The first-ever mail sent using a stamp is up for auction and could fetch up to $2.5 million
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Inside Edition

Did you know that a single piece of mail could be worth $2.5 million? Yes, you heard it right, the kind of thing that piles up in our mailboxes and often goes unnoticed. But what's so special about this particular mail that makes it worth millions when it comes up for auction at Sotheby's New York? This mail is the first known piece of mail sent using a prepaid stamp, one of the greatest leaps when it comes to progress in human communication as per CNN Style. If the piece does get sold at its estimated value, it would become one of the most valuable pieces of postal history ever auctioned as per Sotheby's. Posted on May 2, 1840, the mail's original recipient was William Blenkinsop Jr., the 35-year-old manager of a Victorian iron works in Bedlington, a town in the north of England as per the outlet.


As per the auction house, all that is known about the sender is that they posted the mail in London, about 300 miles to the south and paid for it with a Penny Black stamp. Once Blekinshop Jr. received the letter he turned it inside out and changed it into a "Mulready" an ornate wallpaper embellished with images that show the British Empire. It acted as another method of prepaid payment and was introduced at the same time as Penny Black. The second envelope reached Mr. Blekinshop, probably the first person's father who lived 75 miles away in Dalston, Carlisle. He kept the letter with him but the contents of both the letters had been lost. 

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“Surviving over 180 years, the ornate Mulready envelope sealed with a Penny Black revolutionized the way people from all walks of life correspond, exchange ideas, share news and express themselves,” Richard Austin, Sotheby’s Global Head of Books & Manuscripts said as per the outlet. He added that in the age of AI, these letters speak to our want of human connection and how the ways of communication have evolved since the postcard was sent two centuries ago. Both the envelopes have the stamped dates on which they were sent. The first one was on May 2 and the second one was on May 4, just a couple of days before the official start date of Penny Black.


The idea of the Penny Black was conceived by teacher and social reformer, Sir Rowland Hill. It was the world's first adhesive stamp and was devised to standardize the complex, expensive and unpredictable, postal rates a recipient had to pay in those times. However, the system neither worked for the postal services nor the people using it. The postal services could not recover the cost of delivering such letters if the person who received them did not pay. The stamp became super successful and was adopted by people worldwide, it's usage remained popular for several years afterward, as well as making it into people's stamp collections, a popular hobby. But Mulready was unsuccessful and was soon withdrawn from usage after people ridiculed it. Above everything, this certain envelope has become an important turning point in communication and is of immense value.       

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