THIS 4/- telegraph stamp may well be unique.
It has the highest number, by far, of the English & Irish Telegraph stamps, is the only one known without a letter preceding the number, and the only one that is convincingly used.
Yet when it was sold with others at auction, it was simply described as a damaged 4/- stamp; there was no image.
What had been noticed was the damage, that is all.
Yes, it is badly knocked about, the back has a badly thinned bottom half suggesting that it had been ripped quickly from a telegram sending form.
It probably was - the telegram sending forms on which the stamps were affixed were assumed to contain confidential customer information.
They were retained long enough to ensure the message
was sent without disputes over accuracy, and then securely
The fact that this is the only known example when at least 40,000 others vanished without trace is a testimony to how successful the company was in doing that. The person that liberated this sole survivor risked losing their job at the very least.
Later, other denomination stamps were added to the set and given different letters preceding the numbers. 1/- with A, 1/6d with B, 2/6d with C and 5/- with G. The 4/- continued with the letter D.
The 4/- appears to have been the most used. After adding letters, D12491 is the highest 4/ known with B5779 the highest 1/6d coming next.
People that collect used telegraph stamps are used to imperfections. In many countries the used stamps were routinely punched, including the high values in Britain at one time. In India they were ripped in half in the early days. Whilst eye-candy perfection might be nice, sometimes you just have to take what you can get.
As for the notch out of the top-left corner, there is a good reason for that - but that is another story.