Even stamp icons need regular checkups

By Charles Snee

The 1935 Royal Philatelic Society London certificate of authenticity for the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta. The expert committee of the Royal met March 17 to examine the stamp once again.

On this week’s front page, our stalwart New York correspondent Matthew Healey reports that the Royal Philatelic Society London has examined the 1856 British Guiana 1¢ Magenta for the first time since 1935.

Sotheby’s reported March 24 that the Royal’s expert committee convened in a special session March 17 to give the stamp a thorough examination.

“After close examination by each of the Committee’s six noted experts, including spectrometer analysis, the Committee has once again certified the British Guiana as genuine,” Sotheby’s said.

This should be welcome news among collectors and aficionados of the rare and desirable who will be in the running to acquire the philatelic icon.

Even a stamp as famous as the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta needs regular checkups.

During the course of almost 160 years, the stamp has passed through the hands of numerous collectors, almost all of them well-known in the hobby.

Each of these individuals took their best efforts at the time to ensure that the stamp would be housed and protected in a manner befitting its status as a world-class rarity.

Nonetheless, fragile objects made of paper, such as stamps, inevitably suffer some amount of decay, however slight, through the years.

The 1935 Royal Philatelic Society London certificate for the 1¢ Magenta is shown nearby.

Harmer, Rooke & Co. in New York City sent the stamp to the Royal for examination.

In terse language, the expert committee provided its opinion: “We have examined the enclosed British Guiana Feb. 1856, 1¢ black on magenta, used Stamp, sent by Messrs. Harmer, Rooke & Co. Ld. of which a Photograph is attached hereto, and are of the opinion that it is genuine.”

We have seen the Royal’s 2014 certificate, and the language of the hand-written opinion is similar to the opinion the society provided almost 79 years ago.

The certificate is dated March 17, 2014.

In the meantime, anticipation for the June 17 sale of the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta grows, and we are standing by to bring you all the latest news as it develops.

Published 3/31/2014 6:58 AM