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World's priciest stamp
AND coin for sale!
On June 8 we
will all know what the world’s rarest stamp has sold for. With an estimate
of $US10-15 million, plus goodness knows what in all the Auction house buyer
fees, there will be a new owner for sure one hopes and imagines.
The legendary British Guiana 1856 1¢ Black on Magenta cut to shape imperforate
stamp classic, is to be auctioned again by Sotheby’s in Manhattan, New York.
Whether a live sale audience is allowed, I am not sure, in these COVID times.
shoe designer’s playthings.
It last sold for a $US9.48 million invoice price, also by Sotheby’s
- near exactly 7 years ago, on June 17, 2014. The seller is American
woman’s shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, based in New York. More on him and
his foibles later!
In the same sale, Weitzman will also offer the unique multi-million dollar
Plate Block of 4 of the USA 1918 “Inverted Jenny” 24¢ stamp, and
also apparently the world’s rarest coin, the also unique in private
hands, 1933 $20 "Saint Gaudens" double eagle
Offering together a very smart idea.
It might be a very smart move offering the three pieces together.
Some Arab sheik, or Texas oilman, or Bitcoin investor etc, might decide
it is cool to buy both the world’s priciest coins and stamps in one hit,
and an invoice price for the 2 main items of about $A25 million would
not surprise me at all.
A $10+ million plus stamp perhaps?
Bond rate returns globally are near (or below!) zero, stockmarkets are pretty
jittery, and in that kind of climate there are many well-heeled folks looking
for something with kudos and provenance to park some funds in, AND have
at the same time own a couple of unique and famous items as well.
This is why Picassos always sell well!
Governments are all printing currency like it is Monopoly money, all fiscal
restraint and budgets seem to have vanished globally, and all this ocean
of cash needs to end up somewhere safe - why not stamps and coins?!
Our Grandchildren will be paying for it all of course.
Stampboards.com was literally
the first outlet on earth to publish the price of the 2014 Guiana sale,
(and will again) and had several members in the saleroom with smartphones
and videos, and they added a posted first hand live commentary, and video
of the sale taking place -
The stamp weight has been estimated to be nearly the same as the
Sweden 3sk “Tre Skilling Yellow” which we know weighs exactly 0.02675
grams (0.0009 ounces). This gave the British Guiana stamp the staggering
value of over $US350 Billion per kilogram - $US354,392,523,364.49
to be exact! The most valuable
object in the world by weight or volume - no contest.
Value over $US350 BILLION per kilo.
The stamp is defective, cut-to-shape, very heavily
faded, has been “painted in”, over past surface scuffing, and now
has been signature vandalised with a sharp pen/pencil by owner Weitzman,
but it will still sell for many millions despite this COVID cloud we are
all living under.
World’s most valuable object
last sale really spoke volumes about the health of the stamp hobby globally.
The 2014 auction yielded superb and positive global publicity for stamps,
and lots of mass media of all kinds, and that is always most welcome.
“The world’s most valuable object by weight” etc.
Weitzman purchased it from the estate of John E. du Pont, an heir to the
du Pont chemicals fortune, who had acquired it in 1980, before he died in
prison for the murder of the Olympic wrestler and coach Dave Schultz. The
killing served as the basis for the 2014 film “Foxcatcher.”
The 2014 price was about TEN times what du Pont purchased it
for in 1980. Many at that time in 1980 speculated the price that Weitzman
paid was quite absurd, and openly opined that he would certainly lose big
money on it when it was later re-sold.
In fact, John du Pont paid 3 or
4 times what Weinberg paid only 10 years earlier. And Weinburg paid
5 or 6 times what Australian Gallipoli war hero Frederick Small paid.
Which in turn was more than Arthur Hind paid etc! The gift that keeps
Stampboards.com had a maths whizz compute that since John du Pont purchased
the stamp in 1980, it had appreciated at 6.25% p.a. - pretty amazing in
a USA economy, where annual real interest rates had been negligible in that
Mainstream and POSITIVE media for stamps is very scarce these days.
I had many media calls, and this long interview was on National primetime
ABC radio here -
The record price actually paid, after the cheeky 20% auction house
"Buyer Fee" was added, was $US9.48 million.
Royal Collection does not have one.
As I said in that
interview, it is the ONE major Commonwealth stamp rarity the Royal Collection
does not possess. KGV was underbidder to Arthur Hind,
and who knows, there may still be some interest in it going there.
It was strongly thought by many the Queen was the buyer last time it was
auctioned, as buyer was “anonymous” for quite a while.
I inspected this British Guiana stamp in 2016 at the New York Expo
where it was in a clear Perspex case with bright lighting beaming down on
it. (The multimillion $ Sweden Tre Skilling Banco was also on show
in a collector exhibit there.) A sad, badly faded, pink little square
The world’s very priciest coin?
On July 30, 2002,
the USA 1933 $20 coin was sold at a Sotheby's auction held in New York for
$6.6 million, plus a 15% Buyer's Premium, and an additional $20 needed to
"monetise" the face value of the coin so it would become legal currency
- in a bizarre deal the Feds struck with the seller.
This brought the final invoice price to
- at the time a record price for a world coin I understand. Half the
bid price was to be delivered to the United States Treasury, plus the $20
to “monetize” the coin, while the vendor was entitled to the other
It has not been offered for 19 years, and Sothebys state they expect the
$20 gold coin to fetch $US10-15 million hammer price, and even if it gets
somewhat less than that, will make it the world’s most valuable coin item
after the 20% or whatever Buyer Fees are added.
cannot buy wisdom.
One of the more fascinating aspects of the famed British Guiana 1856 1¢
Black on Magenta stamp is the reverse side, which shows the personal
owner marks of several of its famous (and infamous) owners over the past
Century. Few stamps exhibit so many owner marks. No stamp in history
has ever COST this much of course!
The new owner of the mega million British Guiana stamp decided recently
to flamboyantly add his initials to the reverse of it. Nothing really
unusual about that, as many past owners have done that just that -
Stampboards has videos of this pen vandalism taking place -
Stuart Weitzman does not really collect stamps. He designed
expensive women’s shoes. So his brainstorm was not just to initial the
back of the stamp at far left with “SW”, but to also add a large
stylised woman’s Stiletto shoe under and beside his SW initials.
Brilliant stuff. Both he and his off-siders in the videos, handled this
unique stamp without tweezers or cotton gloves.
Just SO subtle, Mr. Weitzman.
Having apparently far more money than sense,
Weitzman appears to have executed this vandalism using heavy pressure,
with a sharp HB pencil or even a metallic ink ball pen. See photo of it
nearby. Watching him clumsily sign it on the video was disturbing. He
seemed there to have zero clue about the history of the stamp.
The final leg of the “W” he has used such pressure the
stamp paper looks to have nearly been punctured. I have grave fears the
next time this stamp is scanned, this heavy graffiti will show through
on the face, on this very thin paper. Very clever behaviour. Hopefully
it will have cost him a million dollars deducted from bids.
We are ALL
just temporary custodians.
We are all but
temporary custodians of any stamp or cover or coin we own,
and this kind of dopey and thoughtless stuff is infuriating - to me
anyway. Sure, he can slice it all into little pieces if he really
wishes, as it is right NOW his plaything, but such an
over-the-top defacement was excessive to most who commented online.
If he bought one of the 17 existing copies of the Magna Carta
would he also go scrawling stiletto heel graffiti all over that too?
Anyway, what is done is done, and hopefully now that Weitzman has
already tired of it, someone with a bit more common sense will own it,
and not repeat the same wanton ego madness.
Will Jenny keep flying high?
Also for sale on the same day as the British Guiana stamp
and $20 coin, is the unique Plate Block of 4 of the USA 1918
“Inverted Jenny” 24¢ stamp. The block is hinged which means a big
hit on Jenny prices, but being the plate block, will likely still fetch
several millions - likely not as many as Sothebys estimate of $US5-7
million, before commission.
In 2005, it sold at auction by Siegel Auction Galleries
in New York, where it sold to bond tycoon Bill Gross for $US2,970,000.
Mr. Gross's ownership was short-lived, as he swapped it within a week to
Donald Sundman of Mystic Stamp Company, for the USA 1¢ blue Franklin “Z”
Grill rarity he needed to complete his USA collection.
Gross has owned LOTS of “Inverted Jennies” - including
several blocks. They are not really scarce at all (just pricey!) as the
full sheet of 100 copies are all basically still floating about the
global stamp market. I have things in stock priced at $1000s, not
millions, that FAR less than 100 copies exist of!
are not always on the ball!
In general Stanley Gibbons catalogues are
remarkably accurate, and offer a solid and reliable quote re the value
of scarcer stamps. Naturally they are NOT always correct, which is
where my lifetime mantra comes into play - “Knowledge Is Power”.
Dealers closer to the scene often are more knowledgeable.
I recently purchased a FU copy of the £1 First Watermark Kangaroo,
overprinted North West Pacific Islands - “NWPI”. This is a very rare
stamp, as records show only FOUR sheets were overprinted in the middle
of WWI, and most of these high values were used on Telegrams etc, not
This SG #83 is wildly under-rated stamp in TODAY'S market. If I were to
take a rough guess, I'd suggest there are TEN times more existing of the
''common'' later £1 brown and blue Kangaroo, Third watermark, SG
99, mint or used. Those readily change hands at about the $A500 level
mint or used globally. So this one should be 5 or 10
times that level.
Superb MUH block 6, but affordable.
The Third watermark NWPI also has some pretty pieces. I have sold this
quite superb MUH “A/B/C” setting strips of 3 block of SG 99 several
times over the years, for a few $1000 each time. If it were not
overprinted, you could add several zeros UN-overprinted it is cat
over $100,000 for 6 singles!
The stock supply chart that exists for shipments of SG 85 stamps to NWPI
shows only 4 sheets of 120 were supplied to New Guinea, leaving
Melbourne December 17, 1915. Of the sheets they received, James
Bendon’s superb UPU handbook tells us 378 of them received the full face
RABAUL cds dated “5 JULY:16”. Near all used copies
existing have that cds.
Most of those UPU copies are still in global postal archives. I placed
the First Watermark VFU £1 brown and blue Roo shown nearby into stock,
which has a non UPU cancel of “31 JL 16”. Gibbons
number is SG 85, and I checked with surprise to see that the current
2021 catalogue value of this exceedingly rare stamp is only £700 used.
THE most under-priced stamp in SG?
That seemed AWFUL low to me, as I have not had one for 10 or 20 years.
Out of interest I went got out my SG Cat from 1988, and SG 85 was cat
£850! 20% higher than today - 23 years on. Weird. No more
supply has appeared of course, and global demand for all things NWPI is
literally about 5 times what it was 23 years back.
Also this week I added to stock a fresh MVLH 5/- First Watermark NWPI,
SG #83 for $2,500, which, as all who collect NWPI realise, is pretty
much the rarest basic stamp of the entire country - cat today of that is
£2,750 mint. I checked what this 5/- First Watermark was rated at, in
the same 1988 SG, and it was priced LOWER than the £1 SG 85, at £750
used! Today it is £3,750 used - exactly 5 times higher.
offered for double Gibbons.
And even that
seems rather low priced from the few on offer - leading US dealer in
Commonwealth stamps, Colonial Stamp Company has a used one for auction
this month with an estimate $US10,000 - plus his 15% Buyer Fee. That of
course is well over DOUBLE the full SG level, so it will be interesting
to see what it fetches.
Allegedly onIy one sheet of 120 x 5/- First Watermark was overprinted in
error along with the rather common 5/- Second Watermarks that were sent
to Rabaul. This was all tangentially raised in a Military Court Of
Enquiry at the time, when a Sydney dealer actively stirred the pot about
how many strange things were being created and sold - and to whom, and
for what price!
A warning when buying these. Many have the undated “CANCELLED
NAURU” Telegraphic non-postal cancel as shown nearby. A
leading Melbourne dealer - a past President of APTA for goodness sakes,
has the one illustrated here priced at $A2,750! He also states that
only one sheet was overprinted of this value.
This is *NOT* postally used!
HE certainly knows it is misleading NOT to clearly describe it as a
non-postal cancel, when asking many $1000s, but many do not have that
knowledge to know what it is. To that end, I am suggesting Gibbons add
this footnote in the NWPI listings, to in future protect the unwary from
those who know better, from getting conned in future, into paying postal
used type prices.
"High values exist with crisp steel undated dual outer
circle cds inscribed 'CANCELLED NAURU'. This was from Telegraph usage,
and the value is about 20% of a postal cancel. Violet oval Telegraph
cancels bleached off easily, and beware of no gum stamps, or treated
copies with fake cds added later. 'BASE OFFICE' is totally spurious, but
Some NWPI specialists have been communicating with SG
along the same lines, and one was pushing for the NAURU cancels
to be rated at 10% of postal used. 20% to me sounds about right -
exactly like the ACSC rates Telegraph punctures on Australia roos. We
shall all soon see.
So common sense, and market supply says the £1, SG 85,
based on the current 5/-SG 83 prices, should also be now at least 5
times higher now in SG 2021 versus 1988, at about £4,250! So there are
still under-rated bargains out there in NWPI stamps. I put this £1 into
stock at $A800 and did not give one hoot at what insane level SG
currently use - they do NOT have any in stock, and I do! It sold within
an hour. Smart buyer.
strong NWPI tips for you.
My tip to all reading this is, if you EVER see a mint or postally used
NWPI SG 85 for sale - grab it NOW, at today’s silly prices. Hopefully
someone in the SG deep labyrinths will jolt themselves into 2021, and
crank this one up to several times from today’s silly low levels, in
quick order. It is a MAJOR Rarity. Any buyers purchasing on today’s
nutty low levels, will then have a large smile on their face.
Indeed all things NWPI are worth taking a look at as a new collecting
sideline. A LOT of the stamp issues sell for peanuts relative to the
Australia basic stamps. Strange but true. The 5/- Roo SECOND watermark
is a scarce stamp mint or used from Australia, but overprinted NWPI,
sells for only about 10% as much - go figger. A cheap way to fill an
album space for SG 30! There are a lot of bargains about.
The one I think has a lot of upside is the 10/- First Watermark grey and
pink, in mint condition . In NWPI this is SG 84, cat £150 mint and £190
used. The non-overprinted stamp, SG 14 is cat £900 mint. Do be
fussy, and only buy FRESH examples, but for well under the cost of the
current post office Year Album, for something well over a century old,
that cost someone near a week’s wages to buy, is a steal in my view.
Costs less than the current PO Year Book!
Do not ask me for one, as I do not have any right now, but each time I
sell for $150 or so, I am amazed they trade for so little money. That
Tinyurl.com/opNWPI is a 600+ post discussion on
stampboards on NWPI stamps, detailed settings info, and forgeries etc,
with some leading world experts being active on there, for those
interested to raise new matters and questions.
Records show that the 10/- FIRST Watermark had only a few dozen sheets
sent to New Guinea, and of those, and at least 378 were then RABAUL full
face cancelled “5JY16” and forwarded to Berne to the UPU for
global Specimen distribution, and many were also used for Telegram
payments etc, and not postally cancelled.
Be cautious when buying NWPI (and many other areas!) from eBay, as all
kinds of forged overprints have been peddled, and dubious cancels added
to stamps worth a lot more used than mint. And most especially, be
cautious about anything with OS perfins on ebay, as one forger has made
masses of those, mostly on used stamp of course.
Kangaroos to buy?
I often get asked what used Kangaroo stamp is worth perusing to pop away
“for a rainy day” or to try to seek an extra copy of etc. I see
more Kangaroo stamps than near any other dealer on earth, both mint and
used, and have done for over 40 years, so I have plenty of first-hand
These days with interest rates being near zero globally (BEFORE tax!) a
lot of folks are setting aside some funds to tuck away some selected
better stamp items as formal or informal superannuation. In this
climate buying USED stamps makes perfect sense. No foxing, and no
clever regumming to fool you either!
For the monocolour values, the key by MILES is the 1915 Second Watermark
9d Violet. Issued in the midst of WWI - when most stamp collectors,
being men, were fighting and training overseas etc. As this was simply
a watermark change from the 9d 1913 First Watermark, very few
noticed, and even fewer cared!
1915 Second Watermark 9d Roo.
Gibbons list this stamp as SG 27 at £48 - under HALF what it should be
in SG. ACSC is $A90 for the cheapest shade, and that is more like the
retail level of anything half decent. Track down some nice examples
where you can, but be CERTAIN the seller is not “dreaming” with
the watermark ID - as they mostly are, sadly.
WWI emergency expediency printing.
This SG 27 was an Emergency Printing on the
Crown over A watermarked paper, made for the far wider sized KGV head
stamps. Why? As the regular paper could not be sourced from Europe -
due to merchant shipping to here being sunk by the Germans etc. Same
story with consistent colour printing inks from Europe during WWI not
The rather common 9d Third Watermark was issued less than one year
later, on new paper made for the Roo sized stamps. Hence the Second
Watermark paper had a VERY short life, and only 1 printing was made.
Things were in crisis during WWI, and few were buying or saving stamps
with very minor print changes etc.
Issued with no philatelic fanfare or prior advice (no FDC exist of
course of ANY values of this watermark) in July 1915 - just after the
Gallipoli Landing, and carnage in Europe, folks had FAR more on their
minds in life than a stamp watermark change. TOP used examples I sell
rapidly at $150, and very nice ones are in the $100 region.
One 9d I scanned from stock is illustrated nearby. Light crisp
Kalgoorlie “thimble” cds, they do not come much better looking than
this postally used, for a stamp used primarily to mail small parcels -
check YOUR copy, and see how it compares! You’d THINK a VFU 9d stamp
is simple to source - until you go looking!
There are NO Post Office “CTO” copies of this stamp possible, so
the only way to get a nice one is search - and search - and search. And
MOST are pretty rough. Mint are 4 times used retail, so no-one adds
vague corner cancels to heavy hinged mint etc, as occurs on many other
values, such as 6d CofA normal, and “OS” overprint etc.
9d Inverted Watermark, cat $5,000.
One highly sought after variety on this 1915 9d Kangaroo,
is the “Inverted Watermark”. They are very scarce, but I do like
it, and actively seek them, and have owned and sold nearly all the known
copies over the past decades, as they are very popular, and get more so
Ever since Stanley Gibbons have listed and priced all INVERTED
watermarks, global demand has really taken off for all of them, and for
scarcer things like this, with just a dozen or two examples recorded
globally, it is basically a sellers’ market. WHO has any stocks?
Even my dog-eared 1979 ACSC has the 6d Inverted watermark
at $175, and this 9d inverted watermark at $550 - priced over 3 times
higher. Logically, using historical relativity, this 9d stamp should be
worth the current $55,000 of the 6d, plus 300%
$165,000 stamp is now just $5,000!
However oddly, it is only priced $5,000 today. Only a
few used are known, and most of those are faulty.
I just bought a rather decent looking used example very
well this month, that I added to stock for $1,600, if anyone is missing
that gap in their collection. FAR, far, scarcer than any
The few known postal used copies all have Queensland cds
postmarks of April or May 1917 - as does this one nearby I sold
recently, with a neat cds of "MUTTABURRA - 10 MY 17 - QUEENSLAND".
(Population of the entire tiny farming AREA was 106 last
Be mindful that probably HALF of what I see in stamp
albums happily sitting neatly in the “Second Watermark” spaces
are NOT that watermark at all, so be super careful where you
source them from. Be very vigilant and observant, as it is easy to be
On places like eBay where sellers are generally clueless rank amateurs
with no real world experience, they cheerfully decide the sole 9d in
their Kid’s collection must of course be the most
expensive watermark! It is a jungle out there - so use great caution
What watermark is this - can YOU tell?
As the First,
Second and Third watermark stamps all have very similar
looking Crown over A watermarks, experienced eyes are needed to sort
them apart. Especially in USED, where hinge remains and gunk etc often
cover a good deal of the reverse.
The 5/- shown nearby I can tell at a glance the watermark, just from the
image - can you? I must have handled a million Roos over 40+ years, and
with most of them you can ID at a brief facial glance with experience,
even with no postmark date. Just slight nuances. (It is the pricey SG
The same rule applies for the other Second Watermark stamps of course,
except the 3 low values, which are readily sourced at modest cost.
However even wrong identified examples of these I see in near every
stamp collection that I buy here. Be careful.
The 9d, 1/-, 2/- and 5/- are all worth MUCH less in the fairly
common Third Watermark equivalents, so remember always, that wonderful
old saying - “a LITTLE Knowledge Is Dangerous”! On the
2/- or 5/- you can be stiffed $100s a stamp on eBay etc, if you get it
Bi-Colour Roo to chase?
Moving along to the higher values in the Roo series, the Bi-Colour
Kangaroos have one standout contender in my view, as the most
under-rated value, and that prize goes to the 1913 10/- First Watermark,
SG 14. This stamp had a rather short life, near all of it during WWI.
It was quietly replaced during WWI by the Third Watermark version, in
the same colours, which then stayed on sale for 11 years, and if the
major catalogues want us to believe this First Watermark is only worth
twice a Third Watermark version, they are wildly wrong, and they do not
sell these for a living, as I do!
Grab any NICE used you see.
Indeed, 5½ times more were sold of the latter, and that roughly reflects
my stockholding at any time over 40 years - 5 or 10 to one. Today I
checked and have 8 of the 1913 10/- in stock in used, and 48 of the
1917, covering all condition grades - most are pretty ordinary sadly.
Yet SG price is only double, and they are plain WRONG. The 1913 10/-
literally had LESS copies sold than the 1913 £1 and £2 Roos, and
postally USED are about equally scarce as those two. Grab any NICE ones
you see - and from long experience I can tell you only one in 20 is
destroyed after PO Audit.
We must remember that MOST of these 10/- were used on Telegrams, and
were destroyed by PO after audit and storage for a year. Some
Postmasters furtively leaked out the audited copies to dealers, which
exhibit the large circular auditor punch holes. They are sold as
“space fillers” for about 20% the price of un-punched examples.
But a nice postal used copy is a RARE beast. I sold the
one illustrated nearby recently for $A995, and it is about as nice as
you can source these, postal used. Terrific perfs and centering and
colour with about the lightest cancel possible on a heavy parcel.
Indeed now I am loading the scan up here, I’d probably buy it back for
that, as it really was a top shelf example, and I was rather underweight
on my price, now I look at it. A condition grade seldom encountered, on
this stamp, that was used on a very heavy box etc.
VFU 10/- near non-existent.
The majority of “used” SG 14 out there are corner
CTO copies from presentation packs and Specimen packs - which cost way
more than postal used, oddly. Many serious collectors eschew those
Specimens, for one POSTALLY used, which are near non-existent.
I DEFY you to show me a nicer looking Postal Used example for sale -
GLOBALLY - at any price! The CTO cancels - there are 4 different
dates and types of them listed in ACSC, run to about DOUBLE the
postally used prices, so they are not a budget buyer option either.
Strangest one I ever saw was this week, when I bought the example shown
cancelled “HONOLULU - HAWAII - 1914”. Sure a few normal letters
and postcards sometimes dodged cancelling here, and were done at arrival
country, but a 10/- Roo?? That was on a huge sea parcel, and not
getting cancelled here is beyond belief.
WWI Hi-Val cancelled HAWAII!
Usually the perfs and centering are terrible on
all these 1913 issues, as the paper choice was poor for stamps, with
long very tough fibres, that ripped out perfs readily when separated.
Near all short perfs on First Watermark are on the SIDES. A
little known fact!
This tough to tear apart horizontal mesh paper was never used again
after this series, as it caused so many complaints at Post Offices. So,
finding a clean and fresh copy, with no repairs, and nice perfs and
centering and colour, is a task that might take you years to achieve.
About $A1,000 is where you will be starting at, for very decent ones,
and a few $100 more for the elusive premium examples like the one above,
so happy hunting! Perfs and centering are both big issues for this, and
heavy cancels and damage and foxing etc are NORMAL!
Even a really basic average used example will still set you back around
$500, as SG cat is £700=$A1400 - and has been for years. Still worth
tracking down, if you like a challenge! Aim for QUALITY, and pay for
that, if buying with an eye to re-sale down the track.
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