The “one cent magenta” issued in the former colony of British Guiana is expected to sell for up to $20 million at auction in June. If it does, the more than one hundred and fifty year old stamp would crush the current record for a stamp sold at auction.
Considered the “Holy Grail” of stamp collecting, the stamp was issued in the former colony of British Guiana — now Guyana — in 1856. It’s the only known example of the “one cent magenta” and might end up being the most expensive item, of any type, ever sold at auction.
The Telegraph has a brief history of the stamp and how it ended up on the auction block.
“It will be only the fourth time that the stamp has come up for public sale in its colourful history, which has seen it pass through the hands of an enthusiastic schoolboy, a nobleman collector and a convicted killer, as well as being sold for First World War reparations.”
The only known surviving example of the stamp used only to deliver newspapers was discovered by a 12-year-old Scottish schoolboy rifling through his family’s papers in 1873. Probably looking for money to buy nudie mags.
The stamp has a history of expensive auctions — it has set a record price on three occasions: the first in 1922 for $35,000 when it was sold to the New York collector Arthur Hind, the second in 1970 for $280,000 when it was bought by Irwin Weinberg Stamp Consortium and in 1980 the one cent magenta was purchased for $935,000 by John E Du Pont. Du Pont died in jail in 2010 and the stamp is a part of his estate.
Last week, the stamp hit London where it was examined by the British Philatelic Society for the first time since 1935 and verified as genuine. The Sotheby’s auction is set for June 17.