The 'new-look' British Guiana One Cent Magenta


30 March 2021
It was found by a 12-year-old collector, was owned by a convicted murderer, and now sports a rather fetching high-heeled shoe on its reverse… the incredible, intriguing life of the British Guiana One Cent Magenta continues…

The world famous British Guiana One-Cent Magenta is set to be sold by current owner Stuart Weitzman, in a Sotheby's auction featuring just three treasures from the entrepreneur's collection.

It's the latest chapter in the fascinating, dramatic story of this unique stamp.

And now, as the photographs of the rarity appear ahead of its latest appearance at auction, collectors have spotted a rather unsubtle new addition.

The stamp in stilettos

Owner Stuart Weitzman, an entrepreneur who made his fortune in luxury, high-end shoes has added his initials to the reverse of the stamp, alongside a logo representing a stiletto shoe!

It's the philatelic equivalent of adding 'This book belongs to…' to your school books, or of your mum adding those little name labels to your PE kit. It's just that this possession is a little more expensive. 

Devlan Kruck, of the Museum of Philately, explains:

Whilst the shoe has caused quite a stir, the reality is this isn’t anything unusual; the shoe designer is just following in the footsteps of seven others before him who have done the same over the last 125 years.

Admittedly the stiletto is quite a bold mark of ownership and in some quarters is considered to be a fashion statement, but in others a piece of artefact vandalism. 

Regardless of which camp you are in, from an aesthetic perspective we could see that the back of the stamp had been significantly altered, so we, at the Museum of Philately, replaced the reverse scan with the latest image published by Sotheby’s. 

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Previous owners and their initials

This is an ideal opportunity to point out who else has left their mark on this famous stamp:

  • Stuart Weitzman. Outline of a stiletto shoes with ‘SW’ initials, pencil
  • John Eleuthère du Pont.  J.E.d.P initials, pencil
  • Irwin Weinberg & Associates (who took it on a world tour). ‘IW’ initials, pencil
  • Frederick T. Small. Comet, ink stamp
  • Finbar Kenny. ‘FK’ (Macy’s stamps who brokered the sale to F. Small), pencil
  • Ann Hind. Seventeen point star (over the top of her husband’s mark), ink stamp
  • Arthur Hind. Four-leaf clover (under wife’s), ink stamp
  • Count Ferrary. Circled trefoil (two marks one faint), ink stamp 

If you’re wondering why Mrs Hind deliberately put her star over her husband’s four leaf clover, it is because when Arthur Hind died he expressly wrote Mrs Hind out of the stamp collection and crucially the proceeds which would come from the sale of the One-Cent Magenta.

However, she contested the will, and eventually won the case. When she had the stamp back in her possession, and before selling, she made a point of attempting to rid the reverse of his mark. 

Who said the back of a stamp was boring?

The reverse of this one is fast becoming more interesting than the front. And finally, if the stamp in question sells to a rich Hollywood designer of handbags, we might, in time, get a bag to go with our shoe. Then we could really say with some confidence that stamps are fashionable.