The £5 Orange stamp

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A rare stamp worth thousands of pounds has been unearthed in Lichfield.

The iconic 1882 £5 Orange has been described as potentially the “culmination of a collecting career” and is regarded by many philatelists as the holy grail of British stamps.

It is also the highest value pre-decimal stamp ever to be issued. In the 1880s, £5 represented approximately one month’s average salary – £2,000 in today’s money.

Richard Winterton Auctioneers will sell the item as part of a collection on 24th and 25th March.

Richard Winterton with the stamp collection

Auctioneer Richard Winterton said the stamp was expected to be a popular lot.

“Isn’t it crazy to think that this little bit of paper could be worth so much? It goes to show that you never know what might be out there.

“Curiously enough, it is most unlikely that these large stamps were ever used for postage in the regular sense.

“The Inland Revenue act of 1881 cleaned up the system used for collecting duties and introduced new duties. Part of the act made the use of postage stamps a method of paying duties, so a new high value stamp was required at fairly short notice.

“It is a very large, attractive stamp and highly desirable to collectors, especially those who specialise in Great Britain stamps.

Auctioneer Richard Winterton

The collection of stamps have a guide rice of £4,500, but Mr Winterton says bidders could push the price far higher.

“It is in a beautifully compiled album which also features an 1840 Penny Black and Two Penny Blue, a Two Shilling Brown and an 1867 Five Shillings.

“The album as a whole is guided at £4,500 but could fetch far more, especially considering that the £5 Orange alone is worth thousands of pounds.”

Auctioneer Richard Winterton

People can have their own stamps appraised by specialist Stuart Billington ahead of the sale. For details call 01543 251081 or email before 31st January.

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Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.