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.
blogEleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds share ideas …,” and Linn’s is fortunate to have thoughtful leaders of the stamp hobby on its Editorial Advisory Board. Board members participated in a lively discussion of “The State of the Stamp Hobby” Aug. 21 at the American Philatelic Society Stampshow in Grand Rapids, Mich. Read More ›
August 19, 2015 01:58 PMIn an unusual development for our hobby, the Office of Inspector General of the United States Postal Service is blogging about stamp collecting. Read More ›
August 17, 2015 12:19 AMFrom 1967 to 2006, Royal Mail (Great Britain’s post office) advertised all new issues with posters displayed in post offices. Most of these posters had pictures of the stamps along with basic information such as the date of issue, instructions for first-day covers, etc. Some were a little more elaborate. Read More ›
August 14, 2015 09:46 AMWill the United States Postal Service issue a Christmas stamp this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic television musical special A Charlie Brown Christmas? Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s associate editor Michael Baadke discusses happenings at the recent APS Stampshow from the show floor.
Watch as Linn's/Scott editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the early release of the new U.S. Elvis stamp, the possibility of a Peanuts stamp and Linn's at the upcoming APS Stampshow.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses highlights of Robert A. Siegel Auction Rarities Week sales in late June, and reports that the 49¢ price for a first-class United States stamp will remain in effect until April.
Watch as Linn’s senior editor Denise McCarty discusses the hiring of a new executive director of the American Philatelic Society, the new Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board and the upcoming APS Stampshow.
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.