World’s most expensive stamp in New York auction

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta issued in 1856 in the former British colony on the north coast of South America and today known as Guyana. It will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on Tuesday with an estimate of $10-$20 million.

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta issued in 1856 in the former British colony on the north coast of South America and today known as Guyana. It will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on Tuesday with an estimate of $10-$20 million.

Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 01:00

Letter writing is a declining art and with it the attendant interest in postage stamps. But throughout the 20th century stamp-collecting was a ubiquitous and hugely popular hobby. Finding a truly rare and valuable stamp was the childhood dream of many a collector.

The most famous stamp is the sole-surviving example of the British Guiana one-cent magenta issued in 1856 in the former British colony on the north coast of South America and today known as Guyana. It will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on Tuesday with an estimate of $10-$20 million (€7.4-€14.8 million).

In 1852, British Guiana began receiving regular postage stamps manufactured in England but in 1856, a shipment of stamps was delayed, which prompted the local postmaster to commission from a printer, a contingency supply of postage stamps: the one-cent, magenta, a four-cent magenta, and a four-cent blue.

The sole-surviving example of the one-cent magenta was rediscovered in 1873 by L Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old Scottish schoolboy living with his family in British Guiana, who found the stamp among a group of family papers. He later sold it to another local collector in British Guiana, for several shillings.

Since then, it has been bought and sold – and steadily risen in value – on seven occasions.

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