The world’s most valuable stamp is going up for sale at Sotheby in New York. It is the only surviving example of the ‘emergency’ stamps issued by the British Guiana postmaster in 1856. This specimen was discovered in a stack of papers in 1873 and sold for just six shillings. It was later purchased by a Liverpool stamp dealer Thomas Ridpath for $200 (£120).
Ridpath is reported to have then sold it to Philip von Ferrary for $250 (£150) the same year. The stamp was then bought by Arthur Hind in 1922 for $36,000 (£21,000). The interesting aspect is that even with the Great Depression, during the recovery it was sold for $40,000 (£23,700) to Fred Small during a private sale in 1940.
Finally, in 1970, Small auctioned his entire stamp collection and the 1c Guiana was then bought by Irwin Weinberg, for $280,000 (£166,000). About a decade later, John E. du Pont bought the 1c Magenta for $935,000 (£554,000) to add to his private collection, where it remained until his death in 2010.
The stamp is now scheduled to be sold at auction in New York on the 17th of June as part of du Pont’s estate for an estimated $20 million (£11.8 million). It is clear that top end is still booming especially as capital continues to try to get off the grid. With banks questionable and taxes rising, collectibles remain a key market since they are both movable and not subject to property taxes.