Published on May 8th, 2015 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw
The World’s Most Valuable Stamps
As we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Penny Black, we take a look at some other valuable stamps from around the world.
Over 200 countries issue postage stamps, both definitive and special stamps, to commemorate events and anniversaries, with a total of over 9000 stamps being issued worldwide each year. So it is no surprise that occasionally there may be the odd error or misprint resulting in a rare and valuable stamp getting into circulation.
Incorrect colours, wrong wording and upside down images have all contributed to certain stamps becoming much sought after by philatelists.
The most expensive stamp ever sold in the UK was a Penny Red for £550,000. Only nine remain from the original one sheet that made it into circulation after the Post Office destroyed the poor quality printing plate.
That amount is small change compared with the British Guiana One Cent Black in Magenta, which even back in 1856, when it was created, was stamping a mark in the record books. For a very short period, when they were unable to obtain new stamps from England, they were produced by the local post office on British Guiana, each initialled by an employee. When a local boy found one of these stamps in his family’s attic 20 years later he sold it to a local collector for a small amount of money. Over 150 years later, in 2014, it was auctioned for a record breaking £6.4 million.
One to watch out for is the Swedish “Three Skilling Banco” from 1855. Each denomination from the series was supposed to have been printed on different coloured paper however the three skilling stamp appeared on yellow instead of blue-green paper. Only one copy of this stamp has ever been found, again, by a boy in his grandfather’s collection in 1885. It sold at auction in 1996 for £1.5 million. It is uncertain whether any more copies exist.
In China alone there are over 20 million stamp collectors and several Chinese stamps have become valuable collectors’ items. Chairman Mao had previously banned stamp collecting which he felt was too bourgeois. One of the most famous Chinese stamps is “The Whole Country is Red”. In 1968, the designer of this stamp had erroneously left Taiwan white on a map where the rest of China was red. The stamp was quickly withdrawn from circulation with the poor designer fearing he may end up in prison for his mistake. One of these stamps sold in 2009 for £290,000.
Here at the Post Office Shop we have everything you need to get your stamp collection up and running, The Super Stamp Collector Starter Pack includes 250 stamps from all over the world. Whilst the Stanley Gibbons How to Identify Stamps Booklet will help you study and recognise inscriptions and the country of issue.
So maybe it’s time to go up in the attic with your reading glass and seek out that old box of stamps your granddad told you about and find that rare Sicilian Error of Colour, Post Office Mauritius or Inverted Curtiss Jenny that holds your fortune.