Classic British Stamps - 1904 6d Pale Dull Purple (I.R. Official overprint)

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09 July 2014
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Described in 2010 as ‘Britain’s rarest stamp’, an example of the 1904 Edward VII 6d pale dull purple was sold in ‘a deal worth over £400K’, find out more about the rare GB stamp here… ...

Described in 2010 as ‘Britain’s rarest stamp’, the 1904 Edward VII 6d pale dull purple was issued on the same day that an official order came into effect withdrawing all official stamps from use.

The rumoured nineteen sheets of the stamp that were produced at the time were all destroyed when the official withdrawal was announced, yet, as is often the case with stories of philatelic rarities, a few examples avoided the incinerator and quickly become legendary rarities.

Stamps with the overprint ‘IR Official’ were used from 1882 by government departments such as the Inland Revenue, and it was a criminal offence for a member of the public to possess or sell them.

The prosecution of a handful of philatelists who had copies of the stamps prompted a hurried decision to withdraw all the ‘IR Official’ stamps.

Stanley Gibbons bought one of the few examples of the rarity in 2010 – the remainder are all in museum or private collections – and quickly sold it on for ‘a deal worth over £400K’.