British Guiana One-Cent Magenta fetches $8.3 million


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08 June 2021
The world famous British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta has been bought at auction by GB Stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons, for $8,307,000 (approximately £5.87 million).

Described as being 'the rarest and most famous stamp in the world', the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta was one of three rarities offered at Sotheby's New York in the exclusive 'Three Treasures – Collected by Stuart Weitzman' sale.

Ownership of stamp to be 'democratised'

The new owner of the stamp is the major British dealer Stanley Gibbons, who intend to 'democratize' ownership of the famous stamp.

A spokesperson said:

'This is a historic moment for Stanley Gibbons and the hobby, and we hope you can share in our enormous excitement. 

'In addition to making it available for viewing at our flagship store at 399 Strand, it is our intention to make it available for everybody to enjoy owning a piece of this unique and storied item through the increasingly popular concepts of fractional ownership and the creation of digital collections.'

The stamp was estimated to sell for between $10 million and $15 million, and so this latest price will be seen as a disappointment for many. 

Sotheby's described the stamp as a 'superlative in the realms of collecting and in no other field is one single item so highly revered above all others.

'Its remarkable 165-year history is perhaps the greatest story in all philately, a tale involving the foremost collectors, dealers, and experts dating back to the very beginning of the hobby.'

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The British Guiana was last sold for $9,480,000 at Sotheby’s New York, being bought by shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, and so the latest sale sees a decline in the value of the famous stamp.

Sotheby's also pointed out that 'The purchaser will have the opportunity, if not the obligation, to add his or her name to this most elite club in all collecting history: Owners of the rarest and most valuable stamp in the world.' We are still waiting to see who this new owner will be.

Inverted Jenny black of four

Meanwhile, the three-lot sale also featured an Inverted Jenny Plate Block which sold for $4,860,000 (approximately £3.43 million) against a pre-sale estimate of $5 million to $7 million.

The block of four 'Inverted Jenny' stamps was described as 'the greatest showpiece and considered by many to be the most valuable item in United States Philately.'

Further reading: 

Read more about the latest signature on the stamp in our special article 'The 'new-look' British Guiana One Cent Magenta'

British Guiana 1c Black on Magenta: 10 little known facts about the world's most expensive stamp