Discover The Worlds Most Valuable Rare Stamps
that may be staying right now on the back shelf at your home
Since the appearance of Penny Black in the 19th century, stamps have become one of the most desired objects of collectors' passion. Small pieces of faded paper commemorating historic faces and epic events that used to adorn crispy yellow envelopes received by our far ancestors are now worth a fortune. If you are a lucky owner of a rare stamp, we will be glad to help you calculate its precise value. Below, you can see the list of rarest and most valuable stamps issued in the U.S. and all over the world.
MOST VALUABLE U.S. STAMPS
$200,000In the heat of the Civil War, the US government annulled the existing stamps and adopted revamped designs. The ‘60s issue added two new political leaders – Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. These are actually the oldest US stamps that can still be used to send letters.
Following severe critical attacks on the previous ornate issue, the Post Office Department released a series of stamps with a simple and cleaner design in 1908-1909. It is widely known as the Washington-Franklin issue, since it mainly focused on these two politicians. All stamps came with identical frames, which minimized production expenses and allowed for more effective use of steel printing plates.
Let’s look at the pair of stamps depicting Benjamin Franklin in blue and green colors with a one cent denomination. What differs this stamp from previous designs is the use of double line paper covered with the USPS (U.S. Postal Service) watermark. Since the letters were printed across the entire sheet, very often only a portion of the watermark would appear on a stamp, usually in a backwards, sideways or topside position. That’s why there is no universal rule as to the placement of the watermark on the stamp and each individual variation is eligible for sale. An unused pair of the 1908 Benjamin Franklin stamp is currently valued at $100,000.
The Shield, Eagle and Flags stamp belongs to the 1869 pictorial issue that included ten stamps worth between 1 and 90 cents. The series was the first to feature something other than national leader portraits. It also marked the first use of bicolor printing. Spelled out in red letters, the denomination number flows over into the blue-framed flags through the red shield. Due to the oddly placed denomination and the confusing arrangement of colors, the stamp was often criticized as an example of a bad design.
The new technique required double pressing: to print the center design also known as vignette and to print the frame. Negligence in merging the two processes led to the emergence of rare inverts. Because of that some stamps of the issue have an inverted frame rather than an inverted vignette. The 30 cent worth Shield and Flag piece with inverted flags is considered to be the rarest of the 1869 inverts, which explains the high price of the stamp. Incredibly popular nowadays, the 1869 pictorial series was ignored by the 19th century public and soon withdrawn from production. Since the stamps were only in use for a year, they are almost impossible to find. The Shield and Flag design features the G grill and is available in several variations, including split grill, double grill and gum only. While an unused sample with inverted flags is valued at $210,000, a used example costs $65,000.
Like the Declaration of Independence, the Landing of Columbus is a copy of a famous painting by John Vanderlyn that depicts the historical arrival of the Italian expedition to the shores of the New World. Columbus and his crew reached the previously unknown land in 1492 and thus put America on the map for the entire Europe. If not for that, the U.S. wouldn’t have existed at all.
Designed in blue and brown, the stamp features an unusual double-printed vignette, with both normal and inverted printing applied. The Landing of Columbus has a G grill common for the 1869 pictorial issue and is available with double grill and split grill. Over a century ago, people could buy it for just 15 cents. Nowadays, an unused inverted sample goes for $275,000.
The first president of the U.S., or rather his portrait, was extensively involved in the history of American postal printing. His profile crowned the 1867 stamp series and was available in several variations. However, our main interest lies with the three cent B grill stamp in rose printing. George Washington is one of the key figures in the history of the United States. He practically carried the nation on his shoulders through the Revolutionary War and oversaw the creation of the first American Constitution. Without him, the U.S. would have never become the strong, prosperous and influential country it is now. Although the issue was quite sizeable and numbered over 1000 samples, there are only four known pieces preserved, each priced at $160,000.
This stamp commemorating the historic proclamation of the United States independence is one of the finest examples of the 1969 pictorial issue. On July 4th, 1776, thirteen American colonies that were involved in a bloody war with Great Britain proclaimed themselves independent states and refused to recognize the rule of the British Empire. Numerous nations all over the world followed the example of the U.S. by creating their own independence declarations, which laid the foundations of global democracy and fair international relationship.
Like other stamps of the issue, the Declaration of Independence is printed in two colors, green and violet, and can be rightfully called a miniature masterpiece. Artist John Smillie made an exquisite and highly precise copy of the similarly named painting by John Trumbull, having engraved 42 persons with six principal figures recognizable only through a magnifying glass. The 24 cent stamp uses a G grill and comes with split grill, double grill or basic gum. An unused sample with an inverted center is currently valued at $275,000.
Another popular stamp associated with the Civil War issue contains the portrait Benjamin Franklin, a famous political theorist, diplomat, author, scientist and the president of Pennsylvania. Dubbed “the First American” for his extensive political campaign in support of colonial unity, Franklin played a key part in shaping the American mentality as the union of practical values and social tolerance. The Post Office Department used his profile taken from Houdon’s bust for multiple stamp designs starting from 1847.
The 1c Benjamin Franklin stamp issued in 1867 features a rare Z-grill with horizontal ridges, just like two other designs from the series depicting Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. At present, there are only two existing samples valued at a whopping $935,000 apiece.
Finally, we get to learn about one of the oldest U.S. stamps existing, the 1851 Benjamin Franklin in blue color with an imperforate frame. Because the plates were laid by hand and stamps often required re-cutting to adjust their position, individual designs came with various impressions, which led to the recognition of eight basic types.
The stamp we are talking about relates to the Ib type. Basically, it is the same as the I type that takes advantage of a specially calculated position on the steel plate to achieve the original, unaltered die impression. In the b variation, though, the balls under the bottom label look more blurred. Today, only two mint samples and an estimated 100 used Benjamin Franklin stamps are believed to exist. Once denominated in one cent, the design now costs $5,000 to $12,000 apiece, with a huge price of $120,000 offered for used first-day cover examples.
Curtiss Jenny is one of the three Airmail postage stamps released in the U.S. in 1918. The 24 cent rose and blue variety was the first to see the light of the day, although later in the year the postal office also issued two cheaper versions in other colors to reflect reduced postage rates. Curtiss JN-4, dubbed simply “Jenny,” was a training military biplane later used as a civil aircraft. Often referred to as “the backbone of American post-war aviation,” the plane played a key role in reviving civil aviation in the U.S. in 1920’s. The 24 cent Curtiss Jenny design is now valued between $105 and $150.
The interesting thing about this stamp is that it comes in two variations. Due to a printing mistake, the image of the airplane appeared upside down on no less than one hundred samples that got into circulation. Since only one pane of all Inverted Jennies was ever discovered, the design became highly valuable for philatelists, bringing the price up to $200,000. In October 2014, the plate block of four Inverted Jenny stamps sold for $2.97 million at a New York action to U.S. collector Bill Gross. This was the highest price ever offered for any American stamp item of any period. It nearly trebled the price paid for the same block in 1989 that was auctioned for $1.1 million.
WORLD'S MOST VALUABLE STAMPS
British Guiana One Cent Black on Magenta, 1856$9,000,000
For a very long time, the 1856 one cent "Black on Magenta" of British Guiana was considered to be the world's rarest and most expensive stamp. In 1856, the former colony of British Guiana urgently required an extra supply of stamps and couldn’t wait for a fresh stock of new stamps to arrive from England where they were normally produced. The postmaster of British Guiana asked the publishers of the Official Gazette newspaper in Georgetown to print an emergency issue for local use. Rather crude looking designs were printed in one cent and four cent denominations. One cent stamps were meant for newspapers, while their four cent counterparts were intended for postal correspondence.
The local designs were printed in black ink on low-quality magenta-colored paper. They featured an image of a sailing ship, the lettering “Black Guiana” and an inscription of the colony's Latin motto "Damus Petimus que Vicissim" ("We Give and We Seek in Return"). The stamp had a rectangular shape with its corners snipped off, which made it look more like an octagon. Each sample was initialed by a post office employee as a security measure against possible forgeries. However, production of the stamps was soon discontinued. In 1873, a 12-year-old Guaianian boy discovered an octagon-shaped one cent "Black on Magenta", postmarked April 4, 1856 and bearing the initials "E.D.W" in his family's attic. He later sold the stamp to N. R. McKinnon, a local collector, for a very small sum. Over the years, the uniqueness of this stamp created an uproar in the philatelic circles, as no other copy was ever discovered. In 1980, it was auctioned to John Dupont at a huge price of $935,000. At present, this rare stamp value is estimated over 9 million dollars.
Tiflis stamp, 1857$700,000
Tiflis Unique is a very rare Russian postage stamp that was issued in the Russian Empire (now it is a Georgia Rebublic). The stamp appeared in 1857 and is considered to be the first Russian postage stamp. According to the official website of the National Academy of Philately of Russia, there are only five specimens have been preserved. One of these unique stamps was sold at David Feldman auction for €480,000 (or above $700,000) in 2008.
Sweden Three Skilling Banco, Yellow Color Error, 1855$2,300,000
Sweden Three Skilling Banco, Yellow Color Error, 1855 $2.3 million In 1855, Sweden issued its first series of stamps featuring the Swedish coat of arms. The stamps were available in a number of denominations ranging from 3 to 24 Swedish skillings. Each denomination was associated with a different color, which sometimes created confusion in the printing houses. Due to a printing error, one of the three skilling stamps appeared on yellowish orange paper meant for the eight skilling stamp of the same set instead of the usual blue-green color used for this denomination. One copy of the yellow error variety was discovered in 1885 by a young Swedish boy in his grandfather's collection. The exact number of mistakenly printed stamps remains unknown. It is considered to be a one-of-a-kind rarity, as no other copies have been discovered to date. In 1996, the stamp was auctioned to an anonymous collector for $2.3 million.
Baden 9 Kreuzer error stamp, 1851$1,545,000
The most famous and expensive German postage stamp is Baden 9 Kreuzer Error. This particular postage stamp is known worldwide, because there are only 4 copies of this stamp. These stamps were planned to be printed in pink, but because of an error several sheets were printed in green color. Green color was planned to use while making 6 Kreuzer stamps. Philatelists and public know only about 4 copies of Baden 9 Kreuzer Error. The only one of them is unused and it was auctioned on April 3, 2008 for $1,545,000.
Buenos Aires 1859 1p "In Ps" tete-beche pair$575,000
Buenos Aires 1859 1p "In Ps" tete-beche pair is an extremely unique and rare postage stamp. It is also one of the most famous printing errors and this is the only one "tete-beche" pair of postage stamps produced on the territory of the State of Buenos Aires. Only one copy of this pair stamp left and it is estimated in $575,000. Originally it cost only 1 peso.
Post Office Mauritius, 1847$600,000
In 1847, the Governor of the Mauritius Island, a British colony located in the Indian Ocean, ordered to issue the colony's first postal stamps. A local watchmaker from the capital city of Port Louis was awarded a contract to produce two nominations: one penny and two pence. During the printing process, the watchmaker erroneously engraved the words "Post Office" instead of the correct words "Post Paid" on the stamps. By the time the error was discovered, over 200 copies of the Mauritius stamps had already been printed and sold.
According to philatelic experts, less than 30 individual copies of Post Office Mauritius have survived until today. They are valued at $600,000 or more depending on the condition of the particular stamp being sold. In 1993, a cover bearing two of these stamps was auctioned for a whopping $3.8 million, the highest price ever paid for any philatelic item.
Hawaiian Missionaries, 1851$760,000
The first Hawaiian stamps appeared in 1851. These designs are now referred to as the "Hawaiian Missionaries" because they were frequently used by American missionaries on the islands to send letters back to the continental United States. The new stamps were released in Honolulu in three denominations (2 cent, 5 cent, and 13 cent). Because the first "Hawaiian Missionaries" were crudely engraved and printed on thin and poor quality paper, very few of these stamps have survived and are considered to be extreme rarities.
The lowest denomination, the 1851 two cent version, is the rarest of the set, with only about 16 copies known to exist today. An unused two cent Missionary is valued at about $760,000, while the same stamp in a used condition can be sold for $225,000.