StampNews.com got to know that the world's oldest historic letters and rarest stamps come to London for Europhilex, a free exhibition of precious philatelic treasures running for four days.
The world's oldest letter written on parchment? Showing written information of a commercial nature, this letter was secured with a string and sent from Messina to Genoa in 1190.
One of the oldest known privately-owned parchment letters, written in 1190, is heading to London as part of a major free exhibition of rare philatelic treasures from collections across the world.
The impressive gathering of documents and memorabilia is to be shown in Europhilex, a stamp and historic documents exhibition at the Business Design Centre in Islington which promises to reveal the development of the postal system and some of the most important events in world history.
Everything from the five letters that Neil Armstrong sent from the Moon to Robert the Bruce's concession of lands in return for arms to fight for Scotland's independence, in 1326, will be on display in the free show. It has been organized by the Royal Philatelic Society.
The parchment letter, written in Latin in 1190, contains written information of a commercial nature and was secured with a string and sent from Messina to Genoa. And despite its rather prosaic content, it is a rare survivor; in the Middle Ages writing was restricted to the aristocratic and ecclesiastical elites and written documents of this period are extremely rare.
As well as historic documents, Europhile will also celebrate the 175th anniversary of the introduction of the Penny Black ‒ the world's first ever postage stamp.
Many examples of the venerable stamp will be on display, including an interactive display of original Penny Black dies from the British Postal Museum and Archive and the first postal document bearing stamps to cross the Atlantic from London to Boston. Carrying a London Ship Letter mark of 15 May 1840, the 1d prepaid (Mulready) envelope has three Penny Blacks alternating with two Twopenny Blue stamps.
Philately fanatics will also be excited by the presence of Europe's most expensive stamp, the 1857 Swedish three skilling banco yellow, which is valued at an improbable £2.5 million.
Only one example is known to exist of the rare stamp, which is thought to have resulted from a faulty stereotype of the yellow eight skilling plate accidentally replacing a three skilling stereotype.
It will be one of among 300,000 stamps on display, valued at around £50 million in an exhibition that also promises to uncover the story of the delivery of written documents, from the clay tablets sent by Mesopotamians, in 3000 BC, to the invention of the postage stamp in 1840.