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.
October 09, 2015 02:00 PMLinn’s managing editor Charles Snee reported the recovery of a block of three of the 1845 5¢ New York postmaster’s provisional stamp, once part of a block of 10 that was stolen from the Benjamin K. Miller collection in 1977. Read More ›
blogThis month marks my fifth anniversary writing the monthly auction report for Linn’s Stamp News. That’s 60 columns, totaling more than 100,000 words (enough for a decent-sized novel), all about our favorite hobby. Read More ›
blogWhen this cover was listed on eBay in mid-September, it didn't take long for some knowledgeable collectors to recognize this piece of postal history for the gem that it is: an early trans-oceanic survey cover for a Pacific route that included Midway Island, which would become famous as the location of a pivotal 1942 naval battle during World War II. Read More ›
blogIn mid-September I traveled to London, England, to attend Autumn Stampex, one of two British national stamp shows sponsored by the Philatelic Traders’ Society, Great Britain’s national stamp dealers association. The show took place Sept. 16-19 at the Business Design Centre in Islington (central north London), a comfortable and attractive venue for a stamp show. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses current events that relate to the stamp hobby, including the relocation of a stamp show in Sweden due to the Syrian refugee crises, and new stamps honoring Pope Francis and the British monarchy.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke talks about a record fifth win for wildlife artist Joseph Hautman in the federal duck stamp art contest, and see the painting that will appear on next year’s federal duck stamp
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz questions Bolivia’s choice for the design of a 2013 stamp honoring the country’s efforts to protect its migrants in foreign lands.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses the discovery of the upright Jenny Invert pane received in an order from Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Mo., and also reports on the Confederate Stamp Alliance.
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.