Today's Object of the Week is a stamp.

BUT this is no ordinary stamp – in, fact, to many this is the ‘Holy Grail’ of stamps.

And it’s being offered for sale at the region’s largest stamp fair next weekend.

Object of the Week: Mysterious and intriguing felted creatures

The Queen Victoria £5 Orange is the star attraction at the North-East of England Philatelic Association’s Stamp Fair and Convention, next Saturday, October 2, at the Bowburn Community Centre, in County Durham.

The Northern Echo: A previous stamp fair at Bowburn Community Centre, which attracts collectors from home and abroad Picture: CHRIS BOOTHA previous stamp fair at Bowburn Community Centre, which attracts collectors from home and abroad Picture: CHRIS BOOTH

One of the most iconic British stamps, it is hailed by many collectors who specialise in the stamps of Great Britain as the ‘Holy Grail’.

The stamp was first introduced in 1877 originally as a telegraph stamp essentially for the pre-payment of bulk telegrams and for the payment of individual overseas telegrams.

The telegraph stamps were withdrawn in 1881 and postage stamps used instead. Because high cost telegrams were still being sent, the post office decided to print its first £5 postage stamp, which could also be used to receipt telegrams.

The original printing plate for the £5 Orange was adapted to create the £5 postage stamp – the design remained basically the same but the word TELEGRAPHS was replaced by the word POSTAGE.

As a postage stamp, it was not limited to just telegraphic use and available for other purposes such as internal accounting for payments received for bulk mail.

Very few of these high-value postage stamps were actually used to pay postage, so finding one used on an entire letter is extremely rare.

The stamp was in use for 21 years and only 246,759 were issued by the Post Office during its life. The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value for the used stamp printed on white paper is £8,300 including the fine used premium.

It is estimated that around 8,000 of these stamps are still in existence today – a relatively small number, which is one reason the stamp commands a very high price.

This example is being offered for sale by Northern Stamps at a special on the day price of £2,900 (normal price £3,200) and will be available to be viewed on the day.

* Bowburn is the largest stamp fair in the North East, attracting dealers from as far as Nottingham and Lincoln, together with local stamp dealers.

There will be a wide variety of material for sale including Great Britain, Commonwealth and World stamps together with postal history, postcards and ephemera.

The Northern Echo: The NEPA Convention and Stamp Fair takes place at Bowburn Community Centre. Collectors look through the stamps at the event. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH

The stamp fair opens at 10am until 4pm with free entry, disabled access and refreshments will be available. Covid precautions and social distancing will be in place.

Bowburn is situated just three minutes from junction 61 of the A1(M) and the address of the community centre is Durham Road, Bowburn, Durham, DH6 5AT. For further information call 07742-153669 or 07849-904353

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