Earliest surviving envelope sent with a postage stamp, mailed to Northumberland in 1840, fails to sell at auction

A unique piece of postal history with a link to Northumberland has failed to sell at auction, despite a predicted price of nearly £2m.
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The item, a nineteenth century envelope posted from London to Bedlington Iron Works that is considered the world’s first use of a prepaid stamp, was under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York last week but failed to find a buyer.

The historic envelope was mailed with a Penny Black, the first ever adhesive postage stamp, on May 2, 1840, the day after the stamps were first sold and four days before they officially entered public use.

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It was then turned inside out and reposted on May 4, this time making use of the fact that it was a Mulready envelope, a prepaid postage wrapper that also held a value of one penny.

The only combined Penny Black and Mulready cover known to exist, it had been expected to fetch between $1.5m and $2.5m.