Colonial Guyana stamp to auction for US$10-20 million

Colonial Guyana stamp to auction for US$10-20 million

The famous British Guiana stamp

The famous British Guiana stamp

Friday, 14 February 2014 14:35
New York, AFP — The world’s most famous postage stamp, the sole-surviving example of a one-cent magenta from British colonial Guyana, is going under the hammer in New York for $10 to $20 million.

Sotheby’s has valued the stamp, which was made under British rule in 1856 when a shipment of stamps from England was delayed, and will sell it on June 17.The “British Guiana One Cent Magenta” has broken a new record for the price of a single stamp the previous three times it was sold at auction since 1922 and has an incredible history.
 Bought most recently by convicted murderer and American multi-millionaire, John du Pont, it has not been seen in public since going on display at a stamp exhibition in Chicago in 1986. 

David Redden, director of special projects and chairman of Sotheby’s books, said the stamp “was a magical object” and the definition of “unobtainable rarity and extraordinary value.”

In the mid-19th century the postal service in Guyana depended on supplies of stamps being shipped from England.

But when a consignment was delayed in 1856, the postmaster commissioned a contingency supply made locally by printers of the Royal Gazette newspaper.

The printers ran off one-cent and four-cent magentas, and a four-cent blue. This British Guiana stamp is the sole-surviving example of the one-cent magenta.

It was rediscovered in 1873 by L. Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old Scottish boy living with his family in British Guiana.
A budding collector, Vaughan found the stamp among a group of family papers and added it to his album.
He later sold it to another collector for several shillings and the stamp eventually made its way to Britain in 1878.

It was then bought by French Count Philippe la Renotiere von Ferrary, perhaps the greatest stamp collector in history, and later donated to a museum in Berlin.

After World War I, France seized his collection as part of war reparations due from Germany and sold the stamp in 1922 at auction to Arthur Hind, a textile magnate from New York.
Hind paid a then record $35,000 for the stamp. It sold for a second record of $280,000 in 1970 and was bought in 1980 by the late du Pont for a third record of $935,000.

It is being sold by his estate. The stamp will go on display at Sotheby’s in London, Hong Kong and New York before the auction.

Current day British Guiana is now Guyana, having won independence from Britain in 1966. It is 83,000 sq.miles, but relatively underpopulated with only about 700,000 people. (AFP- New York)

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  • de castro  On 02/15/2014 at 12:56 pm

    Maybe UN should be approached to repatriate the funds to Guyana’s
    poor….my cynical comment….
    It was Guyana’s ….

  • bernard  On 02/15/2014 at 1:36 pm


  • Deen  On 02/15/2014 at 3:22 pm

    Rich history and another highlight for Guyana. The stamp is the the rarest and richest piece of paper in the world.
    In the last paragraph, it stated tha Guyana is 183,000 sq. miles which is obviously a typo. As we all know, Guyana is 83,000 sq miles.
    I agree with Kamptan, some of the money from the sale should be donated by the DuPont estate to Guyana, on of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere……but the family must supervise the disbursement of the money to the poor people or else the funds will be another piece of history. LOL

    • guyaneseonline  On 02/15/2014 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks Deen.. typo regarding sq/miles corrected.


    • Christina McMillan  On 10/11/2020 at 3:42 pm

      I have stamps in my possession! With Certificate of Authenticity! Looking for info to sell!

  • de castro  On 02/15/2014 at 4:57 pm

    Evidence has only recently explained why Switzerland was “neutral” in
    WW2……ITS MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATIONS….its central and internal
    Banks were involved in movement of monies “clearing house” during
    WW2….after war US UK and France forced the repatriation of funds
    as compensation to the countries that were invaded by Hitler.
    Unfortunately to this day very few individuals whose “wealth”
    stolen by NAZI s and stored by Swiss banks were ever returned to
    their rightful owners.

    A lot more will be revealed in time when “secrets” are time served.
    Unfortunately most secrets will “die” and never be made public.
    Good bad and evil secrets…..sad fact.!!


  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 02/15/2014 at 5:35 pm

    Very interesting news. What strange creatures we human beings are! We place more value on a tiny old piece of paper than on flesh and blood people in our lives.

  • de castro  On 02/15/2014 at 6:16 pm

    In my grandmothers own words….”money is the root of all evil”

    Money has become an obsession to some …so has religion.
    Extremes exists in human nature but it was never “natural” to humans.
    Beliefs influences these extremes in the human physce….an unnatural fact.

    I go deep into the “motives” of humans sometimes….in order to understand
    human behaviour….am still delving.


  • Deen  On 02/15/2014 at 8:31 pm

    You are delving in an abyss. As you know, the study of the human mind and behavior is perplexing and inscrutable.
    If yuh dig too deep, yuh gon get mad. LOL

  • de castro  On 02/15/2014 at 9:02 pm

    Ah mad already…ha ha…”it takes one to know one”…even louder ha ha!
    I may be diagnosed “lunatic” …but am no “fanatic” !
    My lunacy is not contagious….nor addictive.

    Believe me !

  • Ron. Persaud  On 02/16/2014 at 9:47 am

    Hey Kamptan, I do not wish to sound ungentlemanly, but grandma misquoted the Bible. It is “The love of money…..” Greed!

    Timothy 6:10 King James Version (KJV)
    10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

  • de castro  On 02/16/2014 at 12:20 pm

    Ron…that’s what I like about scholars..their readings are an exact science.!
    Thanks correction my brother…being non religious I seldom believe some
    of the religious stories written….but their morals should not be ignored.

    On the greed issue animals eat until full some guarding their “left over”
    “Dog in the manger”…..others leave when full for others to feed…..
    My observation is in more developed societies more is wasted than
    consumed….maybe that why I prefer to finish my final years in the jungle
    with wild animals..and “uncivilised” peoples.
    Why I can then be “recycled”….ha ha..if I loose my marbles prematurely
    am sure I will wonder off into the “wild” fodder for the creatures of the
    jungle….”purposed served” …recycled naturally….even more ha ha!

  • C. Ian C. Wishart  On 02/17/2014 at 10:00 am

    The stamp should be properly described as 1 cent black on magenta. The scribble across the stamp is the postmaster’s/Postmaster General’s initials. He was doubtful of the security with regard to the local printers (The Chronicle) so he initialed each stamp to verify authenticity. The machine on which the stamp was printed used to be on display at the Carnegie Museum (the building next to Tower Hotel which also houses the library) but I don’t know if it’s still there. The museum also had a potted history of the stamp which at one stage was supposed to have been stolen.

  • C. Ian C. Wishart  On 02/17/2014 at 10:08 am

    I forgot to add: Vaughan sold the stamp for 5 shillings (WI $1.20; a cent was the old British halfpenny when there were 240 pence (= £4.80) to the pound. A lot of money for a schoolboy in those days! The stamp was found by Vaughan in the home of his relative Andrew Hunter, a great uncle of Robbie Hunter who married my aunt Winnie Wishart, the founder of St Margaret’s School in Camp Street. Vaughan remained an avid stamp collector for the rest of his life, and for years was teased about “the stamp that got away”.

    • Robert Scott  On 02/17/2014 at 7:47 pm

      Do you have any further details regarding the relationship between L. Vernon Vaughan and Andrew Hunter? An Andrew Hunter died in Barbados in 1874 after living for forty two years in the then British Guiana.

  • de castro  On 02/17/2014 at 2:26 pm

    Maybe Vaughn should approach auctiners for a cut of the profit…
    Nothing to loose….

  • Tony Bollers  On 02/18/2014 at 4:55 pm

    I often wonder whatever happened to the Vaughn Stamp Collection . Can anyone share their knowledge of their whereabouts ? Alan Vaughn (son) lived in the Bollers compound ( Flat ) on New Market Street. He was a very close friend who often took me hunting. Ian’s has shed some information on the Stamp. I also like Kamptan’s suggestion although the current government would squander the funds for their own use without much going to help the Guyana population.

    • Robert Scott  On 02/19/2014 at 1:30 pm

      I am helping to gather information for the sale catalogue. Unfortunately there is little known about Vaughan, his family, and his life after the find. Any help would be gladly received. From my research to date I have found a John Vernon Vaughan married to Susan J living on the former Murray Street in 1873. If these are L. Vernon’s parents then he is at least half welsh! Ian Wishart tells of an Andrew Hunter who was a relative but what was the relationship and through which side of his family? There also no photographs of L V. Vaughan although he was alive and well in 1935 when giving an interview to the Daily Mail in London. Even if I could find out what the “L” stood for, it would be a start. The other matter is the Columbia printing press that is supposed to be in the national museum of Guyana. Is it still there and is possible to get photographs? In truth It will probably not affect the price the stamp sells for but any information will help to tell the truest possible version of the events of one hundred and forty years ago.

      • de castro  On 02/19/2014 at 3:02 pm

        Try Lionel Lincoln and every l name you can dig up……seriously records of the period is so scarce that it may be an uphill struggle…let know how you get on…

        Wish you luck

  • de castro  On 02/18/2014 at 5:27 pm

    Find the collection and use the money to house the homeless/feed the hungry.
    Not a “penny” to the government and their corrupt friends/supporters.

  • guyaneseonline  On 03/24/2014 at 12:38 am

    Red-letter day for most expensive stamp
    March 24, 2014 – Sydney Morning Herald

  • Clyde Duncan  On 03/24/2014 at 5:58 pm

    Robert Scott: You are gathering information for the sale catalogue and using this blog as a resource? That is a feather in Cyril Bryan’s cap [the creator and webmaster of Guyanese Online] and should stir that sense of national pride in all of us, Guyanese and friends. I have a few friends who collect stamps and may be interested in obtaining a copy of the catalogue. Also, I am interested in anything Guyana – besides, we don’t know when this postage stamp will be up for sale again. But, there is some excitement and anticipation in the air … Robert, will the catalogue be available to rest of us?? How? When? Where? – Please advise.

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