Stamp collecting may seem a bit old fashioned. But with 20million collectors in China alone, you may want to shake the dust off the family albums.
Rare stamps are selling for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Stanley Gibbons investment director Keith Heddle has told us about seven of the best sellers:
1. The Penny Red
The most expensive stamp Stanley Gibbons has sold is a British Penny Red, for £550,000 – not bad for a piece of paper. It’s in really poor condition, but there are only nine in the world. The Post Office decided the printing plate was not up to scratch, so they destroyed it. But one sheet got into circulation.
2. The Penny Black
The Penny Black is one of the world’s most iconic stamps. Because it’s the world’s first stamp, it’s very valuable. Rare Penny Blacks are valued at tens of thousands of pounds and have increased in price for decades.
3. The British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta
There is only one left in the world. At the time, all the colonies had to wait for stamps to arrive from the UK. The boat was delayed, and the postmaster created his own collection of stamps. This stamp was auctioned in New York for $9.5million (£6.4million). It’s in appalling condition and it was not even printed on proper Royal Mail stock.
4. The Inverted Jenny
This American stamp was of a stunt plane and they printed it upside down. Then they realised what they had done and recalled it.
5. The Tyrian Plum
These stamps are valued at over £100,000. The Tyrian Plum was issued in the reign of Edward VII, but it actually came out the day he died. It was immediately withdrawn, but a tiny handful got into the market.
6. The Roses Error
There was a stamp from 1978 which was worth 13p and is now worth £130,000. The quirk about the stamp is the 13p did not get printed for some reason.There are only three in the world. The Queen owns two and one of our clients owns another one.
7. The Whole Country is Red
This modern stamp was commissioned by Chairman Mao to represent communism over the whole of China. But by a complete error, the designer left Taiwan in white. This was massively controversial – he thought he would be going to prison for treason. The stamp was hurriedly recalled.
Could you own a rare stamp?
Here’s some of the signs a stamp might be a collectible, according to Heddle:
ERRORS – these stamps tend to be highly priced and highly collectible
A PIC OF QUEEN VIC – Queen Victoria was the one who launched this communication revolution.
CHINESE STAMPS – Mao banned stamp collecting because he thought it was bourgeois. Since the early eighties, there’s been a big surge in the number of Chinese collectors.
INDIAN STAMPS – If you find a letter with old colonial stamps it is worth having a look at these.
If you think a stamp is rare, contact the auctions department of Stanley Gibbons.
By Julia Rampen