When it was issued in 1856, it cost a penny. In 2014, this tiny square of faded red paper sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $9.5 million, the largest amount ever paid for a postage stamp at auction. Through the stories of the eccentric characters who have bought, owned, and sold the one-cent magenta in the years in between, James Barron delivers a fascinating tale of global history and immense wealth, and of the human desire to collect.
One-cent magentas were provisional stamps, printed quickly in what was then British Guiana when a shipment of official stamps from London did not arrive. They were intended for periodicals, and most were thrown out with the newspapers. But one stamp survived. The singular one-cent magenta has had only nine owners since a twelve-year-old boy discovered it in 1873 as he sorted through papers in his uncle’s house. He soon sold it for what would be $17 today. (That’s been called the worst stamp deal in history.) Among later owners was a fabulously wealthy Frenchman who hid the stamp from almost everyone (even King George V of England couldn’t get a peek); a businessman who traveled with the stamp in a briefcase he handcuffed to his wrist; and John E. du Pont, an heir to the chemical fortune, who died while serving a thirty-year sentence for the murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz.
Recommended for fans of Nicholas A. Basbanes, Susan Orlean, and Simon Winchester, The One-Cent Magenta explores the intersection of obsessive pursuits and great affluence and asks why we want most what is most rare.
The British Guiana One-Cent Black on MagentaThe Unique British Guiana 1856 One-Cent Black on Magenta Surface-Colored Paper (Stanley Gibbons no.23, Scott no.13)Initialled EDW, cut octagonally clear of design, April 4 1856 DEMERARA circular datestamp.29 x 26 mmEXPERTIZATION:Royal Philatelic Society, London certificates:Number 18796. Jun 10, 2016 PDF Benevolent Neutrality: Indian Government Policy and Labour Migration to British Guiana. British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer. Jan 20, 2000 01. Scorched Earth 02. Sticking In The Pin 03. Protection Racket (Improvised Live) 04. Side Screw Overheat (Improvised Live) 07. 212 Free images of Magenta Color. Triangles Polygon Color. Bokeh Pink Light. Mesh Background. Dandelion Colorful.
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