'Mona Lisa of the stamp world' is to be sold for £12m
According to the info got by FindYourStampsValue.com, this stamp first belonged to a Scottish boy, Vernon Vaughan, who spotted it in 1873. To the schoolboy stamp collector who plucked it from a pile of family papers more than a century ago, it was simply a new addition to his collection. But now a 1-cent postage stamp is set to become the most expensive in the world.
Measuring 1inch by 1 and 1/4 inches, the stamp bears the image of a ship with the former colony's motto, 'We give and expect in return' in Latin. The image is in black on magenta paper.
Stamp collecting has long been a pastime of many British children, as well as children and adults across the world. Even John Lennon of the Beatles had a stamp collection as a schoolboy By 1980, it had reached a then record price of £402,000 – equivalent to about £1.5million today – when John E Du Pont bought it.
However, Du Pont, heir to the eponymous chemical company fortune, died in prison in 2010 after he was convicted of fatally shooting a 1984 Olympic champion wrestler 13 years earlier. The stamp was first auctioned in 1922 when it sold for a then record £21,000. One of the bidders was King George V but he was beaten by the New York textile magnate Arthur Hind.
The stamp is now being sold by his estate, which will designate part of the proceeds to the Eurasian Pacific Wildlife Conservation Foundation that du Pont championed during his lifetime.
The stamp is being sold at Sotheby's in New York on June 14, where it will easily fetch a world record price if it sells within its estimate.
Allen Kane, director of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, said: "You're probably not going to find anything rarer than this. It's a stamp the world of collectors has been dying to see for a long time."
David Beech, a curator of stamps at the British Library before he retired last year, said it was like buying the Mona Lisa. David Redden, director of special projects and worldwide chairman of Sotheby's books department, said it was "the superstar of the stamp world".
He added: "I have been with Sotheby's all my working life, but before I knew about the world's greatest art, I knew about the British Guiana. As a schoolboy stamp collector, it was a magical object. "
The stamp will go on display in London before its sale.
The current world auction best for a single stamp is £1.41million in 1996 – equivalent to £2.24million today – for the Swedish Treskilling Yellow.
When the Treskilling Yellow was sold, it was most expensive item in the world by weight.