The correlation between value
and rarity or uniqueness is nonlinear.
The values of the world's most prized stamp treasures are expressions of an ineffable enigmatic allure that defies description. Value is the measure that letss the owner of a world class rarity know that the achievement is unmatched.
OXFORD DICTIONARY DEFINITION : Unique
remarkable, special, singular, noteworthy, notable, outstanding, extraordinary. unequalled, without equal, unparalleled, unmatched, matchless, peerless, nonpareil, unsurpassed, unexcelled, incomparable, beyond compare, superior, inimitable, second to none. rare unexampled.
In the 1954 issue of LIFE magazine, the 1865 British Guiana was estimated then at a mere $100,000 - today nearly $10 million. The 1855 Swedish color error estimated at $40,000 then sold for $1,000,000 in 1990 and then $2,300,000 in 2010. A block of US C3a Inverts (Upside Down Jennys) valued at a mere $30,000 then would trade for no less than $5 million today.
When the US C3a Inverted Center Block of 4 (Upside Down Jenny, purchased at $3 million) was traded at $1 million par value for the unique "Z" Grill (which was in-turn purchased for $935,000), it then promptly sold in relatively short order for $5 million to a consortium of non-philatelic forward-thinking investors with a clear understanding of the viability of stamps as an investment vehicle.
The C3a block is unique due to its singular plate number. However, it's the fact that every other specimen from the same error sheet now sells for over $1 million. The "Z" grill is unique because only the one human being who possesses it can claim a complete US stamp collection.
The One Cent British Guiana is not rare because it is unique, it is rare because it is alone in claiming it is currently the world's rarest stamp.
|Sale Price||Stamp||Sale Date|
China RoC - Small One Dollar Red Revenue
Sold in 2009 for 120 million yuan ($18.8 million USD), this block of four of the rarest Red Revenue China has to offer is considered the “Crown Jewel” of Chinese Philately.
British Guiana - 1c Magenta
Arguably the most famous stamp of all time, every time this rarity is hammered down at auction, it breaks the world record for most valuable single stamp. Last sold in 2014 to Stuart Weitzman.
United States - Inverted Jenny c3a Block of 4
America's most famous stamp, in a unique plate block of four. Sold by Don Sundman of Mystic Stamps to a private investor in 2014 in a sale that made the front page of many papers.
Mauritius - 1847 1 & 2 Penny Post on Cover
Issued by Mauritius in 1838 to say "Post Office" instead of "Post Paid", these are among the rarest stamps in the world. Only 240 were made before the error was noticed, and only 26 remain. This cover has not surfaced for auction since 1993.
United States - 1c Franklin Z Grill
One of two copies that exist, the owner of which can boast having the only complete US collection in the world, traded by Don Sundman in 2005 to Bill Gross for the Inverted Jenny Block of 4. The other copy is owned by the NY Public Library as part of the Benjamin Miller Collection.
United States - Alexandria Postmaster Provisional "Blue Boy"
One of only 7 surviving Postmaster Provisionals from Alexandria, D.C. this stamp, however, is the only one printed on blue paper. With the others being printed on buff-colored paper.
Italy - Scilian Color Error
Considered the most valuable Italian stamp. An error issue with an intended color of yellow, of which only two exist.
Sweden - 3sk Treskilling Yellow
Sweden's most famous stamp, and a recognized item by almost all philatelists. A color error
China PRC - 8f The Whole Country is Red
A famous piece in Chinese People Republic philately. An error in the printing, Spratly and Paracel Islands were missing from the map, as well as the borders with Mongolia, Bhutan, and Myanmar being incorrectly drawn. The stamp was pulled from circulation after a day and a half. But not before a few sheets got out. The remaining singles that exist are worth a small fortune each.
United States - Inverted Jenny c3a Single
America's most famous stamp. Created by an error in printing where the sheet was fed upside down, a lone sheet of 100 was sold before the error was caught by the post office worker.
Germany - Baden 1851 9k Error
Yet another famous color error. Produced by the German State of Baden, this 9 Kreuzer denomination was printed in green instead of pink. Only three copies exist.
United States - 1867 3c Washington B Grill
A rare B grill on a common issue, sold at Robert Siegel in October, 2008.
China RoC - $1 Red Revenue Small Imprint
The rarest of the China Red Revenue Issues, the "Small One Dollar" stamp. One two panes of 25,were made before complaints that the Chinese characters were too small to read, and a larger character stamp was issued. Only 32 are known to exist.
Hong Kong - 96c Olive Green Victoria Block of 4
A color error issued by Hong Kong. 52 sheets were printed in the Olive color, watermarked in the wrong style, and the word "CC" was printed in the wrong place. Among all 40 pieces that remain, this is the only block.
Russia - 1932 Kartonka Souvenir Sheet
One of the most expensive and rare Russian philatelic items. Given as a souvenir to invited quests of the 1932 All-Union Philatelic Exhibition. An imperf souvenir sheet of 4 on thick card with the unique overprint "To the best shock worker of the All Russian Philatelic Society - President of the Moscow Philatelic Organization E.M. Nurkas"
China RoC - Inverted Sun Yat-Sen Head $2
An error in printing caused a sheet of 50 portraits to have an inverted head. Today only two pairs are left remaining.
China RoC - 1897 10c on 9c Candareen
An extraordinary rarity from 19th century China features an inverted 10c surcharged on the 9 Candareen Dark Green Dowager issue. Only four copies are known, two mint, two used.
Great Britain - Penny Red Plate 77
The one of the most fabled Great Britain stamp, the plate 77 of the Penny Red was never supposed to be offered for sale because they were not deemed of high enough quality for public use. The original plate 77 was destroyed, but not before a few issues were released for circulation. Only 5 exist.
Russia - 1857 Tifilis
Issued in the Russian Empire(now Georgia) in 1857 and is considered to be the first Russian postage stamp. Only five specimens have been preserved.
Germany - Audrey-Hepburn Error Sheet
A modern issue with a fascinating history. Hepburn was originally supposed to be clutching a pair of sunglasses between her teeth, but an unauthorized change of design printed her sporting a cigarette holder instead. Hepburn's son then had the issue pulled as he is an active campaigner against tobacco use. All but three sheets were destroyed. But not before a few leaked out, used copies of the stamp have been popping up in kiloware lots across the globe which also sell for hefty prices.
United States - 1851 Hawaii 2c Missionary
One of the first postage stamps of the Kingdom of Hawaii, issued in 1851. Came to be known as "Missionaries" because they were primarily found on the correspondence of missionaries working in the Hawaii Islands. Whether it be alone, or on cover, these rarities always fetch an impressive price, only a few remain.
Mauritius - 1847 Post Office Mauritius
A single of the rare "Post Office" Mauritius issue, of which only 26 remain.
Russia - Levanevsky inverted overprint
This Russian Levanevsky stamp sports an inverted commemorative red overprint that it shares with 50 others, printed on two sheets. Issued in 1935, it's rumored that "error" was a result of a special instruction from Henry Yagonda, who was collected philatelic errors.
Great Britain - 1904 Edward VII 6d Pale Dull Purple
Withdrawn simultaneously at its time of issue, this stamp was printed the same day as an official order withdrawing all "official" stamps from use. The last Great Britain Official printed, had 19 sheets made that were destroyed immediately, but not without a couple issues saved. Often described as "Britain's rarest stamp".
Canada - 1851 12d Black Empress
Issued in 1851, printed in New York, this 12 pence issue are considered Canada's rarest postage stamp, only 130 copies are believed to exist, with only 5 unused pairs. Due to the price of the stamp being so high, only 1,450 copies were sold during the three and a half years it was offered at the post office. Mint copies with original gum are exceedingly rare because not many people could afford to buy such an expensive stamp and not use it.