Philatelist wish list

Posted on 27 June 2021

Stamp collecting

You may have seen the news recently as the worlds most valuable stamp recently sold in auction. Whilst the headlines say it ‘fell short’ of the anticipated auction record it still closed at $8,307,000.

The British Guiana One-Cent Black on magenta stamp was estimated at 10,000,000 – 15,000,000
Its the rarest and most famous stamp in the world. No other stamp is quite so sort after or revered above all others by collectors, dealers and experts alike. This is the only copy of the stamp that has survived since 1856. It came into existence only 16 years after the introduction of postage stamps, and was printed in British Guiana {now Guyana} by the colony’s newspaper printer as an emergency supply as the Post Master waited on the shipment of stamps from London.

Previously it sold for $9.5 million, but with Covid hitting all areas of the art and collecting world perhaps the drop in price was to be expected. 


It’s not the only valuable stamp of course. 

The Whole Country is Red is a Chinese postage stamp, from November 1968, which was printed in error. It was noticed soon after the stamp release that Taiwan is the only part of the map not coloured in red – an error that features in both stamps. This was an embarrassing oversight as China claims sovereignty over the island (an issue that remains controversial to this day), and the stamp was also quickly withdrawn. Actually within half a day. Not before a handful escaped into the world and made it into the hands of the collectors.

1847 Mauritius 2d Blue was also a colonial stamp, issued in Mauritius in, as it says, 1847. The inscription on the left side reads ‘POST OFFICE’ and the colour and design was based upon the then current stamps of Britain.  Only 12 copies of the deep blue are known to exist. The 1d rusty red version exists in slightly higher quantities.

If you read up on the most valuable stamps you will find they are nearly always a misprint or retracted design. The history of the owners and collectors of the stamps make for fascinating reading too. Kings, Billionaires, even murders if you trace the history of the British Guiana One-Cent Black on magenta stamp!

These collections run into millions, not bad from something so everyday and printed on paper, not the most long lasting of surfaces after all.  A good investment? Yes, absolutely, if you have the correct knowledge required to store them safely.