Top Five Most Expensive Stamps
The first ever adhesive postage stamp was released on 1st May 1840 by Sir Rowland Hill and Henry Cole in the United Kingdom. This stamp, known as the Penny Black, was designed to make postage cheaper and simpler and was a method quickly embraced around the world.
As time has moved on, stamps have become the quintessential collectors’ items for generations of collectors and countries have used stamps as an opportunity to showcase their creativity with a selection of weird and wonderful designs (Bhutan is particularly famous for this).
The popularity of the stamp amongst collectors has naturally resulted in rare issues selling for extraordinary sums, but just how expensive can a stamp be?
What are the most valuable stamps in the world?
5) 1847 Mauritius 1d Red Post Office - $1,000,000
In quite surprising news, the cheapest stamp in our list could still make you a millionaire. This stamp was designed by Joseph Osmond, with the design based on the Penny Black. Only 500 copies of this stamp were made and most them were used by the wife of the governor to invite friends to a ball. All following issues were printed with ‘Postage Paid’ rather than ‘Post Office’, ensuring the rarity of the stamp forever.
4) 1968 The Whole Country is Red - $1,100,000
The Whole Country is Red is the most wanted stamp in the burgeoning Chinese philately market, which has helped to raise the price to a seven-figure sum in recent years. Issued during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the stamp features an image of China in red. However, due to an error on the part of the printer, Taiwan was mistakenly left in white. The stamps were only issued for half a day before the error was noticed and all the stamps recalled, but this was long enough for a handful to escape and eventually find their way into the hands of collectors.
3) 1847 Mauritius 2d Blue - $1,600,000
Coming from the same issue as number five in our list, the 1847 Mauritius 2d Blue managed to fetch slightly more than its partner in a 2011 auction. Interestingly, both stamps were unknown to the philatelic world until 1864 when the wife of a Bordeaux merchant discovered copies attached to an envelope in a box of her husband’s correspondence. This envelope is now a legendary item in the philatelic community and is known as the Bordeaux Cover.
2) Treskilling Yellow - $2,300,000
The Treskilling Yellow was issued in 1885 as part of Sweden’s first set of postage stamps. The cheapest, three skilling stamp was normally printed in a blue-green colour, however, due to a plate error, one was printed in yellow instead. This lone stamp is the stamp known as the Treskilling Yellow. Only one example of this misprint has ever been found, making it one of the most sought-after items in the philatelic community. It has been the most valuable stamp on multiple occasions but is currently in second place.
1) British Guiana 1c Magenta – $9,480,000
The most expensive stamp in history is, by some distance, the British Guiana 1c Magenta. This stamp only came about by chance after a delayed shipment of stamps from Britain forced the local postmaster to order an emergency issue of three stamp values. Although he wasn’t completely happy with the designs, the stamps were only used briefly and discontinued once the shipment from Britain had arrived.
The record-breaking stamp is currently the only known survivor of the 1c Magenta issues and has broken the record for the most expensive stamp four times, most recently being purchased by Stuart Weizmann, shoe designer and businessman. As well as having an interesting story, this stamp also has an interesting collection of previous owners.