Let’s take a quick journey in the world of collectible stamps. One of the hobbies we pick up as children and remain truthful to throughout our adult life is stamp collecting. If as youngsters the reasons which push us to arrange such collections can be considered rather naive, such as the importance of the subjects depicted (with a stronger interest for those representing ships, locomotives, planes, animals), as we get older, we tend to be more attentive to those intricate little details such as historical value, geographical aspects, number of prints, etc. All kind of stamps take their place in one’s collection, and whether you’re an an avid collector or not, I’m sure you’ll find interesting getting to know some of the most expensive collectible stamps in the world and the story behind them.
1. Treskilling yellow
First on our list is a swedish stamp issued in 1855 and most ironically the world’s most expensive is actually a printing error as it should have been printed in green which was indicating its three skilling value instead of yellow which was meant for eight skilling stamps. Because of its rarity this stamp sold in 1996 for no less than 2.5 million swiss francs. Makes you think going in the stamp collection business, isn’t it?
2. Mauritius “Post Office” Stamp
Printed back in 1847 in Mauritius, a British colony at that time, this stamp’s appearance is also marked by an error for instead of “Post paid” as it should have been marked on it, the words “Post office” were engraved. Since there are around 30 stamps remaining, their value is high enough: one of them was sold back in 1993 for around 1,1 million USD.
3. British Guiana
This 1856 one cent black on red stamp was once considered to be the world’s most expensive. Printed in rush because of urgent need, the chosen paper was of poor quality. The stamp depicts a ship and also the latin motto of the colony which says “ we give and we seek in return”. Each of the issued stamps had their corners clipped as well as signed by the post office employees in order to prevent replicas. In 1980 the stamp sold for around 900.000 USD.
4. Hawaii Missionary Stamps
Printed in 1851, its name comes from the fact that missionaries stationed in Hawaii at that time used by them to maintain correspondence with the mainland. There are few of these collectible stamps left now and the reason is the poor quality paper they were printed on. From the whole set the most valued one is actually the 2 cent one which is worth around a quarter million USD.
5. Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill, 1867
With only 2 stamps existing now, this one is the rarest in the US. It depicts president Benjamin Franklin and in case you’re wondering what z-grill stands for, it actually refers to the tiny indentations on the paper as a method of preventing forgeries. In 1988 one of these two collectible stamps was sold for 930.000 USD.
6. The red lady in the green dress
Printed in 1897 and part of a trial printing, there are only 9 examples of what is recognized as the most expensive Chinese stamp. The stamp is valued at nearly 1.3 million USD.
7. The inverted Jenny
Inverted stamps due to erroneous printing are considered rare and thus highly valued. Such an example is this stamp printed in 1918 in the US. It shows a Curtiss Jenny biplane used to shuttle mail and from the initial print there are only about 100 examples which still survive and one stamp was sold in 2007 for 977.500 USD.
8. Double Geneva
Counted as extremely rare this is the third oldest European stamp and it was printed in 1843. Despite a number of 60.000 doubles printed, only 600 survived the test of time. Printed in black on green paper, at the top it indicates 10 centimes cantonal postage, which was the rate for sending letters to another city and each half had 5 cents inscripted on them, which was the rate for local postage. The estimated value is around 70.000 USD.
9. Baden 9 Kreuzer
This is Baden’s first postage stamp and was printed in 1851. Sprung out of an error since green paper was intended for the 6 Kreuzer value, there are only 4 examples of this stamp known at the moment which makes it among the rarest collectible stamps in the world. One of them was sold for 1, 3 million euro in 2008.
10. Perot Provisional
This is the first postage stamp printed in Bermuda in 1848 and along Hamilton which marks the capital city the stamp also bears the signature of William Perot the country’s postmaster, hence the name of this stamp. There are 11 examples of this stamp known today, mostly owned by european royal families and the value of the stamp is around 100.000 USD.