The stamp dates back to the 19th century and might be one of the most valuable pieces of philatelic art in existence.
In another installment of “people do the strangest things” a 1-cent postage stamp from a 19th century British colony in South America has been deemed the most expensive stamp in the world. On Tuesday, the piece of historical iconography sold for (you may want to sit down for this) $9.5 million.
The valuable stamp is a 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta. It was sold by Sotheby’s in New York to a buyer, who chose to remain anonymous. The winning bid was, in fact, lower than the auction house’s predictions, as the stamp was expected to fetch somewhere between $10 and $20 million. Despite this, David Redden, Sotheby's vice chairman, called the sale "a truly great moment for the world of stamp collecting."
"That price will be hard to beat, and likely won't be exceeded unless the British Guiana comes up for sale again in the future," Redden said, via the Associated Press.
According to Allen Kane, Director of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, the stamp is extremely rare and something collectors have been waiting to see for years. Measuring 1 inch-by-1¼ inches, it hasn't been on public view since 1986 and is the only major stamp absent from the British Royal Family's private Royal Philatelic Collection. The stamp has a long and illustrious history.
Printed in black on magenta paper, the stamp features the image of a three-masted ship and the colony's motto, in Latin: "we give and expect in return." It went into circulation after a shipment of stamps was delayed from London and the postmaster asked printers for the Royal Gazette newspaper in Georgetown in British Guiana to produce three replacement stamps to be used until the shipment arrived: a 1-cent magenta, a 4-cent magenta and a 4-cent blue.