Sunday, May 02, 2010

Happy Birthday Penny Black!

Britain's Independent reports 'The Penny Black' turned 170 years old yesterday.

Reporter Simon Usborne writes, "For those of us outside the fusty world of philately, there are few reasons to get excited about stamps. Most childhood collectors grow out of the pastime as they do fossils or football stickers. To their annoyance, those who carry the habit into adulthood are considered a step above trainspotters in the hobbyist hierarchy.'

He goes on to say, "But before you turn the page on this story of stamps, just try, for a moment, to set aside prejudice and consider one sticky little square of paper that surely deserves to be coveted. The Penny Black, which first went on sale in London on 1 May 1840, is neither the rarest nor the most valuable stamp in the philatelist's album, but it is the most beautifully designed and nobly conceived. It also changed the world in ways that should excite us all."

Douglas Muir,curator of philately at the British Postal Museum and Archive, is quoted in the piece as saying, "Stamps are microcosms of the age and place that reflect a great deal about the attitudes, history and geography of a country. You can say the same today. It's hard to compare the Penny Black to the Harry Potter stamps issued in 2007, but a hundred years from now, historians will look back and learn things about our popular culture."

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM