After months of hype and anticipation, the fate of the world’s most valuable stamp was decided in a matter of minutes June 17 at the Sotheby’s auction gallery in New York City.
There, under the watchful eyes of a capacity crowd and media cameras, the iconic 1856 1¢ Magenta of British Guiana (Scott 13) was sold to an anonymous collector for just shy of $9.5 million.
When the stamp was last sold, in 1980, it fetched $935,000.
Linn’s New York correspondent Matthew Healey was there to record the historic sale in words and video.
Thanks to the efforts of Healey and Linn’s managing editor Donna Houseman, our initial report was posted on Linns.com within minutes of the fall of the auctioneer’s hammer on the podium.
Healey’s updated coverage of the sale appeared on page 1 of the July 7 issue of Linn’s.
To my knowledge, Linn’s was the first to publish online a detailed report following the sale.
Our video documenting the sale was produced June 18, the day after the sale, and is available for viewing at Linns.com.
Other media outlets picked up the story, and their reports have reminded millions of viewers and listeners of the wonders of stamp collecting.
I’ve said it before in this space, but I marvel at how quickly we can make news available to our readers via our website and through social media such as Facebook. Reporting breaking news now takes seconds or minutes, not hours or days.
The $9.5 million paid for the stamp makes it one of the world’s most valuable collectible objects by weight.
Nonetheless, the final realization fell just short of Sotheby’s presale estimate of $10 million to $20 million.
This did not surprise me because I considered the estimate to be too high.
More realistic would be for the stamp to sell close to the unannounced reserve price, which was set below the $10 million floor of the estimate.
Now that a firm price has been paid, the Scott catalog editors likely will assign a value to the unique stamp. A dash has long appeared in the used column for the listing of this stamp, meaning that it is known to exist used but not enough market data is available to establish a value.
Prior to the sale, I speculated that the stamp would be sold to someone who did not collect stamps. It pleases me to have been proven wrong on this score.
So what will happen, now that this iconic stamp has a new owner?
At this writing, next to nothing is known about the buyer, including nationality.
We do know that the stamp will be exhibited in the future.
Both the National Postal Museum and World Stamp Show-NY 2016 have extended invitations to display the stamp at their respective venues.
When Irwin Weinberg and his consortium of investors acquired the stamp in 1970, they made sure it stayed in the public eye.
They spent the next decade taking the stamp all over the world. The countries visited included Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.
It is our fondest hope that the new owner will afford collectors and noncollectors alike the chance to see this unassuming piece of philatelic history.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.