What makes these pieces highly collectable is the fact that both were promptly withdrawn from circulation.

Mulready stationery

Mulready stationery was introduced as part of British Post Office's reform in 1840. On 1st May 1840, the letter sheets and envelopes were available to purchase, and could be used from 6th May.

6th MAY 1840 Penny Mulready Envelope stereo A180. 6th MAY 1840 Penny Mulready Envelope stereo A180.

The set was named after the illustrator Mulready, who created the elaborate designs on the stationery which acted as a pre-paid frank. It was the intricacy of these designs which led to the stationery being pulled, as many thought it was far too elaborate and was even a government ploy to control information transported via the postal system.

The Penny Black

Sir Rowland Hill, who reformed the British postal service and is noted as creating the idea of stamps and the modern postal system, thought Mulready would be more popular than the newly introduced Penny Black stamp.

Great Britain Stamps : Plate 2 (AL) Penny Black fine four margin example cancelled by Brownish Red MX and Bradford Town cancel. Great Britain Stamps : Plate 2 (AL) Penny Black fine four margin example cancelled by Brownish Red MX and Bradford Town cancel.

His predictions were wrong, the world's first adhesive postage stamp was far more popular than the stationery set. The Penny Black was sold and valid on the same days as the Mulready.

Image via the Telegraph Image via the Telegraph

Featuring a profile of Queen Victoria, the Penny black lasted a mere few months, and was soon replaced by the Penny Red. The black design of the first stamp meant that cancellation stamps were illegible so much so that the stamps could even be reused.

An unperforated Penny Red, position 2, row 2 An unperforated Penny Red, position 2, row 2

In February 1841, the Penny Red was introduced to the postal service, which was in circulation from 1841 to 1879.

To mark the 176th anniversary of both the Mulready set and the Penny Black, stamps specialists Martello Philatelic Auctions will be holding a sale on 6th May, 2016, which featured both the collectable envelope and stamp.

Check Martello out on Barnebys here.

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