If you’re an active player in the stamp-collecting scene, chances are you’ve heard about the holy grail — the 1856 one-cent stamp from British Guiana.
Deemed the world’s most expensive stamp, this magenta one-cent stamp is the only one of it kind still in existence. It was originally found by a 12-year-old Scottish boy in 1873 who later sold it to a local stamp collector in British Guiana. From that point on, the rare stamp was sold to collectors across the world every few years, traveling from Liverpool to Switzerland to France.
In 1922, New Yorker Arthur Hind bought the expensive stamp at an auction for about $35,000, marking the first time it was the highest-valued stamp at an auction. Forty eight years later, the rarity landed its second record price, selling again at a New York auction for $280,000. Fast forward to 1980, and millionaire John du Pont bought the British Guiana stamp for a cool $935,000, once again trumping its previous selling point record.
On June 17th, the stamp is set to be sold at a New York auction as part of the late John du Pont’s estate. Its estimated value is between $10 million and $20 million, and if these projections are correct, this antique is on track to set its fourth world record.
Before auction, the stamp has been on display at Sotheby’s in London. Even Sotheby’s higher ups, who have been exposed to world class works of art, are impressed by the piece. The director of special projects, David Redden, explains:
“I have been with Sotheby’s all my working life, but before I knew about the world’s greatest works of art, before I knew about the Mona Lisa or Chartres Cathedral I knew about the British Guiana. For me, as a schoolboy stamp collector, it was a magical object, the very definition of rarity and value, unobtainable rarity and extraordinary value.”
The question still remains: $20 million for a single expensive stamp — any takers?