Stamps have been among the most sought after collectibles since the introduction of the first one, close to mid-century 1800. People don’t only wish to attain them because of their history or ethnic merit. Possibly owning something that may have great monetary value attracts many collectors. The reason a stamp may be considered precious varies. Some are treasures because they weren’t easy to attain and are considered rare, while others may have special markings or mistakes were made during production. Whatever the reason, some are more valuable than others, as you will see in this list of the 10 most expensive stamps.
10 The Penny Black ($3.3k)
This was the first “sticky-backed” stamp introduced to the world. It made its debut in England, in the spring of 1840. Although it isn’t as scarce and doesn’t hold as much monetary value as many other stamps, the fact that it is the first of its kind is what makes it a collectible.
The way-paving stamp boasts a photograph of Her Royal Majesty, Queen Victoria II, as opposed to depicting its native land; which is largely what is on today’s postal stamps. It isn’t hard to get your hands on a Penny Black, however, a new one can bring the owner more than $3000.
9 Inverted Swan ($39k)
When it comes to stamps, mistakes bring value. One of the most well-known and rare stamps across the globe, this stamp is considered one of the first to be produced with a blunder. In 1855, in Western Australia, the lithographic printing process was not an easy one and mistakes were common.
During the production of this particular stamp, the frame was inverted. Many have always believed that it was the beautiful bird that was printed wrong, hence the name of the stamp. The last sale of this stamp is traced back to the early 1980s. Anyone lucky enough to own this infamous stamp can sell it at auction for a minimum of at least $39,000.
8 Red Mercury ($41.2k)
The value in this stamp lays in its scarcity. Unlike other popular stamps, this one wasn’t used for sending letters. It was issued in 1851 to be used in mailing newspapers in Austria and Lombardy-Venetia. Its name stems from the feature of the Roman messenger god, Mercury, whose image is on the face of the stamp. The stamps were printed in three colors. Each color dictated the number of newspapers in the bundle. Blue meant that there was a single paper, yellow indicated ten and rose indicated 50. In 1858, the rare stamp was all but forgotten when Franz Joseph became the new face of stamps. It is unknown how many Red Mercury stamps still exist.
7 Hawaiian Missionaries (More Than $43.4k)
The Hawaiian Missionaries stamp was the first to be printed in the Kingdom of Hawaii, in 1851. Mostly seen on communications between working missionaries, the name is self-explanatory. The stamps were produced in three denominations: two-cent stamps were used for periodicals going to the Americas, the five-cent stamp was used for mail going to the United States and the thirteen-cent stamp was used for mail going along the Eastern coast.
Although they were printed on inexpensive paper the color of the Hawaiian waters, they are counted among the most sparse of all time. Only fifteen are currently known to exist.
6 Inverted Dendermonde (More Than $83k)
The Inverted Dendermonde stamp, from Germany, is another that was printed with a noticeable mistake. The image of the town hall of the Belgium city of Dendermonde is upside down. The mistake bled through two and a half sheets of stamps. However, just more than one and a half dozen are known to still be in existence. It has long been thought that a couple of the rare stamps disappeared in the early 1940s when a renowned collector was killed. The cost to own the few that are left will cost more than $83,000. The rarity of this stamp ranks among the highest.
5 Inverted Jenny (More Than $83k)
Again, some mistakes are priceless. In the spring of 1918, the United States printed a twenty-four cent stamp with an error that catapulted its value to more than $83,000. The image of the JN-4HM aircraft, built by the Curtiss company in the middle of the stamp was inverted. Printed during WWI, the majority of pilots trained on this make of plane.
It is thought to be the most renowned and valuable mistake in America’s postage-stamp history. Adding to the value of the stamp is the fact that only one hundred were printed. At an auction in 2016, one of the stamps sold for more than $1.3M.
4 Baden 9 Kreuzer (Approximately $1.1M)
While other stamps were printed with image mistakes, this error was made when the nine denomination of the Kreuzer (Kreuzer is the denomination) stamp was printed in green, as opposed to its usual pink hue. The green hue was intended for the six Kreuzer stamp. Somehow, the sheets were mixed up. The stamps, issued in 1851, are made even more valuable because only four were produced. One of the canceled copies can be viewed at a Berlin museum. Another was on a letter belonging to the Phillip von Ferrary estate and sold at auction in the early ’20s. Copy number three was purchased by a collector in Paris, in 1919. The final copy was auctioned for the last time in 2008.
3 The First Two Mauritius (More Than $1.1M)
Boasting the image of Queen Victoria, these were the first to be printed away from the British Empire. Issued by the British colony for which they are named, in 1847, this stamp was produced in only 2 denominations. The stamp valued at one-cent was printed in a deep orange hue, while the two-cent value was printed in a dark blue. Considered among the most scarce collectible stamps, there are only 27 known to exist as of 1981. Many forgery attempts have been made. The last recorded sale of the stamps was in 1993. The price tag for the pair was $4M.
2 The Treskilling Yellow (More than $2.3M)
Also known as the 3-shilling bank error, this was another color error. A yellowish hue was used to print the 8-schilling denomination. It is believed that the plate used for the yellow-colored stamps was damaged and useless. Somehow, it was replaced by the 3-schilling plate. To date, it isn’t clear how many of the discolored stamps were printed.
Ironically, at the time of issuance, the mistake was never noticed. It wasn’t discovered until 1886 when a collector came across one of the stamps in his family home. One of the stamps was auctioned off as part of Phillip von Ferrary’s estate sale.
1 The British Guiana 1c Magenta (More Than $10M)
This stamp would be considered the “Holy Grail” of stamps. The most sparse and priceless, it is valued at more than $10,000,000. Controversy once followed the stamp. There were claims that it was simply a dressed-up replica of the 4c stamp. A limited number of the stamps were printed in 1856. It is believed that only one remains today. Printed with a Latin inscription, it is the only British stamp that is not part of the Royal Postage Collection. The last sale of the British Guiana 1c Magenta stamp was in the summer of 2014. The price tag was nearly $9.5M, which included the purchaser’s premium.