The tiny pieces of paper that made it possible to send letters and packages across the globe, have a fan base of their own, and some of these could cost you millions
Collecting stamps was a commonplace hobby for most about a couple of decades ago. But in this age of social media, the process of penning letters is becoming obsolete, so philately, as an interest, might have also taken a back seat. But some of the wealthiest collectors around the world are ready to prove that postulate wrong. Chasing not only unique local stamps, these philatelists also keep a track of some of the most-unique stories behind these stamps that bear testimony to various historical events. Interestingly, cancelled stamps with colour errors and printing mistakes lead this list of the most expensive and sought-after stamps. Here’s a look.
Treskilling Yellow- $ 2,300,000
This Swedish stamp from 1855 broke the world-record auction sales price for a single postage stamp in 2010. In Sweden, at the time, the stamps sold for eight skillings and were printed in yellow while three-skilling ones were printed in blue-green. But when the cast of eight-skilling stamp broke, this three-skilling stamp was printed in yellow instead of its usual color. The stamp was then canceled before being first sold by a child in 1886 for a mere seven kronor. With time, it’s uniqueness and its rarity found popularity among collectors who started searching for more of its kind, but nothing surfaced. Stamp auction specialist David Feldman in Geneva auctioned the stamp for the second time in May 2010, and it sold for $2.3 million.
Sicilian Colour Stamp-2.6 Million dollars
An error might have never been valued so high as it has been in the case of this second-most expensive stamp in the world. Issued in 1859, these stamps were printed in blue instead of orange. This error adds to its value, but another rare feature that makes this a two million dollar stamp is its pristine condition. Moreover, only two of these are known to exist, one of which was sold to an online bidder at an auction in June 2011.
Baden 9 Kreuzer error- $1,467,966
Originally issued in 1851 in the historical German state of Baden, the nine Kreuzer stamp was misprinted in pink instead of green. because of a mere mismatch of paper sheet, causing an error. What really makes this stamp one of the greatest philatelic rarity is that the error was not identified until 44 years after they were issued. The only unused stamp with nearly full original gum changed hands a few times before being auctioned by David Feldman for $1,467,966 in 2008.
Inverted Jenny - $1,593,000
In 1918, the United States government decided to issue a stamp to celebrate the launch of its first-ever airmail service. With impressive patriotic carmine rose and deep blue colour, the stamp was to also feature Curtiss JN-4 airplane or ‘Jenny’ in the centre. But 100 stamps of that kind sported an unmissable error – the plane was inverted – and just like that, these stamps became one of the most prized collectibles in philately. This famous error can be blamed on the rush with which the printing process was carried out. Moreover, since it had two colours, the error-prone process also entailed the stamp to undergo printing twice, causing the delightful error. Four sheets containing 100 stamps each were produced, out of which one sheet went out unnoticed. Auctioned by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in September 2018, the rare 49th position stamp was sold for $1,593,000.
British Guiana 1c Magenta - $ 9,480,000
The moniker ‘Holy Grail of Stamps’ can probably best describe the extreme rarity of what is the most expensive postage stamp in the world. In 1856, when postmaster E.T.E. Dalton of the British colony British Guiana found himself short of postage stamps, he issued temporary one-cent stamps and four-cent stamps that were supposed to be used for newspapers and letters respectively. He soon removed them from circulation once their job was done, but since fewer people would save one-cent stamps from the newspaper than the ones from the letter, the former soon disappeared. In 1873, one of these magenta-colored stamps and now the only surviving one was discovered by a 12-year-old schoolboy, who sold it for six shillings. Changing hands since then, the stamp was finally sold at Sotheby’s New York auction for a whopping $9,480,000. The owner is said to be Stuart Weitzman, a shoe designer, and businessman who has been collecting stamps since his childhood.