Rare stamp sells for record-breaking $9.5 million

A stamp known as the One-Cent Magenta from British Guiana has been sold for $9.5 million, the most any stamp has ever been purchased for at auction.

The 29-by-26 millimeter stamp is the only known one of its kind. It is the "sole surviving One-Cent of the entire 1856 issue produced in Georgetown, British Guiana," according to the description from Sotheby's, the New York house that conducted the auction.

The stamp itself has an image of a boat with Latin words that can be translated as, "We give and expect in return," and has a certificate of authenticity from the Royal Philatelic Society.

And perhaps as expected from such a small, expensive piece of paper, the One-Cent Magenta has a storied history.

The stamp was last in possession by multimillionaire chemical heir John E. du Pont, who died in prison in 2010 when he was 72 while serving a murder sentence for the shooting of Dave Schultz, an Olympic champion freestyle wrestler.

(And Schultz's story and death is recreated in the 2014 biopic Foxcatcher starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Director Bennett Miller won top honors at this year's Cannes Film Festival.)

Prior to that, it passed hands 10 times (including the government of France from 1920-1922) and was exhibited at 1940 New York's World Fair and international stamp conventions from 1923 to 1987 across the world.

"The significance of the stamp was first recognized by the great philatelist Edward Loines Pemberton, who declared as early as 1878 that the "ONE cent, red, 1856!!! (is) as genuine as anything ever was," reads the stamp's description.

The last stamp that drew similar recognition was the Treskilling Yellow, a stamp from Sweden that sold for $2.2 million in 1996 (which would be $3.3 million today), according to the New York Times.

Follow @lindsdee on Twitter.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment