Postage stamps can immediately transport one from the ‘present’ to the bygone eras. They may simply be a record of monumental events of the past or a propaganda by some iconic leader, but whatever they signify, postage stamps have always been a close companion of the common people, at least before the technology boom hit us.
Thinking along these lines, China unveiled a new postage stamp recently–showing a happy family of pigs with three piglets. This might be a possible signalling of the ban of China’s two-child policy as the country is struggling to address an ageing population.
Ever since the first stamp was put on a letter in May 1840, they have inspired philatelists and enthusiasts around the world. However, it’s not all romance and lore. Stamps can cost quite a fortune too.
Here are some of the most expensive stamps in the world.
The British Guiana 1c Magenta – €9,000,000 (Rs 71,64,99,092)
One of the most valuable stamps in the world, the British Guiana 1c Magenta is valued at around Rs 71 crore. The colonies always kept waiting for stamps to be delivered from the UK, and in 1856, one such delivery was delayed from London to British Guiana. Thus, 1c Magenta was created in limited numbers to ensure continued trade and communication on the island. Only one sample of this stamp exists and it features the colony’s Latin motto.
The Treskilling Yellow – Over €2,100,000 (Rs 16,70,74,376)
The only surviving stamp of its kind, this Swedish piece is an error stamp. Ideally, it should have been printed in blue-green colour with the three-skilling print, but was done in yellow. Issued in 1855, it has been sold multiple times since and each time its value only rises. Currently, its priced at around Rs 16 crores.
Inverted Jenny – $1,350,000 (Rs 9,26,57,250)
Valued at around Rs 9 crore, Inverted Jenny is an error stamp. Issued on May 10, 1918, it has the image of Curtiss JN-4 that was printed upside down by mistake. A clerk in Washington DC Post Office at the time is responsible for the sky-rocketing price of this surviving stamp. Never having seen an air plane before, he sold a sheet of 100 stamps with the print of a plane upside down. While most of them were destroyed, some survived. One of the finer examples was sold in New York for around Rs 9 crores in 2016.
Benjamin Franklin – $935,000 (Rs 6,41,92,892)
This is an American Civil War stamp– rare and priceless. Featuring Benjamin Franklin, who was dubbed the ‘First Amercian’, there are only two samples of this stamp left. Valued at roughly Rs 6 crores, the stamp boasts of a rare Z-grill with horizontal ridges.
The Penny Red – £550,000 (Rs 4,86,52,092)
Having a value of a whopping Rs 4 crore, this red stamp with Queen Victoria’s image on it is in a very poor condition. But since there are only nine of them left, one can imagine the preciousness of this piece of paper.
The Penny Black – €3,000 (Rs 2,38,935)
It does not feature high on the most expensive stamps but since it was the first ever stamp made, it is quite valuable. It has the image of Queen Victoria on it and can earn its owner almost Rs 2.5 lakh.