‘World’s most valuable stamp’ goes on show in London ahead of auction

British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp
British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp
PA Wire

The world’s most valuable stamp, estimated to be worth 15 million dollars (£10.7 million), is in London ahead of its auction in the summer.

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, said to be the sole survivor of its kind, can be viewed at Sotheby’s auction house in Mayfair from Wednesday.

It was created as a contingency in 1856 when a shortage of stamps usually imported from England threatened to disrupt the postal service in British Guiana (now Guyana).

British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp

Each of the four times it has sold at auction, the item has established a new record price for a single stamp, and is predicted to set a record at one billion times its face value.

The stamp is expected to fetch around 10 to 15 million dollars (£7.1 million to £10.7 million) at an auction at Sotheby’s, in New York on June 8.

Its current owner, high-end shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, who bought the stamp for 9.48 million dollars in 2014, added his own mark to the back of the stamp – inscribing his initials “SW” along with a line drawing of a stiletto shoe as a nod to his legacy in fashion.

British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp

Following a shortage of regular postage stamps in the 1850s, British Guiana was able to commission a contingency supply, the one-cent black on magenta coloured paper, a four-cent magenta, and a four-cent blue.

The sole-surviving example of the one-cent magenta was rediscovered in 1873 when L Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old schoolboy living with his family in British Guiana, found it among a group of family papers.

He would later sell it for several shillings to another local collector.

British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp

The stamp then entered the UK in 1878, before being sold on by a number of collectors.

The stamp can be viewed by the public until April 30.

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