Chronology : 1840-1849 1850-1859
See List of most expensive stamps in Wikipedia.
The mail delivery, paid by the recipient, was long and expensive. A postal reform was desired to eradicate the corruption. Robert Wallace, the Whig member of parliament for Greenock, started the Uniform Penny Post campaign. advocating a monopoly of the government for the postage with a uniform rate whatever the distance within the Kingdom.
In 1837 the social reformer Rowland Hill appreciated that having it paid by the sender was sufficient to significantly increase the volume of mail and reduce the price. He was able to convince the committee presided by Wallace to accept the incredibly low price of one penny, payable by the prior purchase of gummed stamps or special envelopes. The post office had now in charge to ink the stamp on the cover to prevent it from being reused by the recipient.
The basic postage rate was reduced to 4 pence in December 1839 and to 1 penny in February 1840, canceling privileges and fraud before a stamp was available. The first postage stamp in the world was the one penny black with the figure of Queen Victoria in profile to the left, released on May 6, 1840 through a printing of 20 rows of 12 columns per plate.
This achievement marks the transition of the postage between an application for trade and the global purpose accessible to all individuals, triggering the improvement of the circulation of informations and ideas worldwide. Its impact on our current civilization is major.
1843-1844 Olho de Boi
2008 SOLD for $ 2.2M by Robert A. Siegel
Brazil issued three denominations : 30 and 60 reis for general purpose and 90 reis for international mail. The large numeral value well centered in an oval made them nicknamed Olho de boi (bull's eye) after the funny effect of a side by side pair. The very simple design has no other inscription or picture.
These stamps were printed in Rio de Janeiro on a British engraving press confiscated by the authorities. The first two plates had 54 positions made of six columns in three sections of three rows each, one section for each denomination. It was not so clever to mix the three values in the same batch and specific plates were soon added.
The production tun was terminated at the end of 1843. Bull's eyes are rare because the inclinados aka snake's eyes superseded the straight numerals a few months later.
A se-tenant vertical strip of bull's eyes was first documented in 1897. This uncut strip had been canceled by postmarks in 1844. It is made of two 30 reis and one 60 reis, including the line separating the two upper panels. It has been named the Pack Strip after a former owner and also the Xiphopagus Triplet, from a word designating tied twins in teratology.
The Pack Strip was sold for $ 2.2M from a lower estimate of $ 1M by Robert A. Siegel on June 5, 2008, lot 17. The image is shared by Wikipedia.
Only one other block of se-tenant bull's eyes of different values is known, but it is defective.
The Invitation Cover
2021 SOLD for € 8.1M before fees by Gärtner
The stamps are inscribed POST OFFICE on the left edge, which corresponds to the marks previously used by this post, and also to the first US stamps issued in the same year.
The issue of 500 stamps of each denomination is ready just in time to be used for an invitation to a costume ball at Government House. The postal rate is 1 penny for a delivery in Port Louis and 2 pence for the rest of the island.
This first release is unique. A few months later, new plaques are prepared for multiple printing. The two editions differ in the text, which becomes POST PAID.
One of four surviving covers mailed for the invitation to the ball was sold for € 8.1M before fees by Gärtner on June 26, 2021, lot 1. It is illustrated with also the Bordeaux cover on the post sale release shared by Barnebys. It had been sold for CHF 1.4M before fees by David Feldman on November 3, 1993, lot 452.
This cover was circulated with the One Penny stamp. The recipient, "H. Adam Esq Junr", was locally best known : no address has been written. He remembered fifty years later having attended the ball.
The stamp is clean with clear margins. The mark PAID cancels the stamp and a mark PENNY POST is on the top left side of the cover. The reverse is stamped by the Mauritius Post Office at a date, September 27, 1847, which is the 7th day of the issue. Its provenance is unbroken from its first addressee to now. It was once in the collection of King Carol of Romania.
The Bordeaux Cover
1993 SOLD for CHF 6.1M by David Feldman (worth US $ 4.1M at that time)
The only known unused copy of the 1 penny was sold for CHF 1.4M before fees. One of the four unused copies of the 2 pence was sold for CHF 1.5M before fees. A cover mailed for the invitation to the ball was sold for CHF 1.4M before fees.
A cover sent from Port Louis to a wine merchant in Bordeaux has been stamped at the overseas rate and includes a copy of both denominations. Discovered in 1902 by a schoolboy who was consulting the recipient's archives, it is kept with its letter. It was sold for CHF 5M before fees, CHF 6.1M including premium, lot 155.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1993 SOLD for CHF 1.5M before fees by David Feldman
Also in the same sale, Feldman sold at lot 1 for CHF 1.4M before fees the only remaining unused copy of the 1 penny. Another example had disappeared in World War II.
1852 The Cover from Hawaii
2013 SOLD for $ 2.25M by Robert A. Siegel
Three values are released, corresponding to the three postage rates: 2 cents for a newspaper, 5 cents for a letter to the Western United States and 13 cents to the East. Printed on thin paper, these fragile stamps poorly survived.
These 13 cents enabled to pay 5 cents for the sending country, 2 cents to the boat and 6 cents to the destination country. They were paid to the post office of Hawaii which ensured the sharing of the fee.
In 1905, somewhere in the United States, a worker cleans a factory disused for about 35 years. The previous owners had not checked the incineration of their archives. The worker discovered in a stove, almost intact, one of the wonders of the history of philately: the Dawson cover.
Shipped from Hawaii to New York on October 4, 1852, the Dawson cover did not use the stamp of 13 cents but a combination from the two involved countries : 2 cents and 5 cents of Hawaii and two stamps of 3 cents each of the United States. This is the only known copy with this mixed postage.
It was sold for $ 2.1 million including premium by Robert A. Siegel in New York in November 1995. It is now estimated $ 2M, for sale by the same auction house on June 25.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold for $ 1.95M before fees, this prestigious piece of philately remained in the region of its lower estimate.
The file is shared by Wikimedia :
1856 British Guiana One Cent Magenta
2014 SOLD for $ 9.5M by Sotheby's
The first stamps issued by the British Guiana in 1850 are made in black ink by woodcut printing on papers of various colors depending on the face value. The work is done by the printer of the local newspaper. They are so rudimentary that each sold stamp is authenticated by the handwritten initials of the postmaster or of one of his clerks.
These first stamps of 4, 8 and 12 cents are not rare because they have attracted the interest of collectors from the 1870s. These circular or roughly octagonal stamps are nicknamed the cottonreels. An additional cottonreel of 2 cents was issued in 1851. This low value only applied for the local mail inside Georgetown and this variety is extremely rare.
In 1852 the government takes control of operations. Stamps for British Guiana are now lithographed in England. In September 1855, it is a disaster. British agents had misunderstood the order and printed a quantity of stamps ten times lower than needed. Faced with the shortage, Dalton released in 1856 a new series of locally printed British Guiana stamps, with the same rudimentary process as in 1850.
The 4 cents stamp of 1856 to be used for mail is printed on colored paper in four variants, magenta, carmine, blue and double sided blue.
The 1 cent for the postage of newspapers is a lower denomination that had no reason to be kept by users. Only one survived. In poor condition, almost indecipherable, it is magenta in the same shade as one of the 4 cent variants. Collected in 1873 by a schoolboy in the archives of his uncle, it was formally authenticated by an expert in 1891.
This 1 cent magenta 29 x 26 mm British Guiana stamp is the only British variety that escapes the royal collection. Its reverse bears eight marks of prominent owners. Sold for $ 935K by Siegel in 1980, it was already at that time the most expensive stamp in the world.
It was sold twice by Sotheby's : for $ 9.5M on June 17, 2014 and for $ 8.3M on June 8, 2021, lot 3. The image is shared by Wikimedia. Please watch a video shared in 2008 by psychediva.
In June 2014 the other lots from the DuPont collection of British Guiana stamps were sold by David Feldman. The top results before fees were € 160K for a 4 cents from 1850-1851 on a cover, € 190K for a 2 cents from 1851 and € 240K for a blue 4 cents on a cover from 1856.
1857 The Only 3-Skilling Yellow
1996 SOLD for CHF 2.9M including premium by David Feldman
narrated in 2010 before a private auction sale (see below)
No other copy will never be found, making this stamp the rarest and most desired piece on the philately market. Its story is told on the Treskilling Yellow page of Wikipedia, where it is illustrated. It was canceled in 1857.
It is a mistake and not a fake. This sample has all the characteristics of an 8 Skilling stamp, yellow, unless it bears the engraving of the 3 Skilling, which is green for all other known copies. The hypothesis to keep is that one of 100 clichés of a printing block of 8 Skilling was damaged, and the operator has inadvertently changed it by a 3 Skilling cliché. Nobody went aware of the error, and there is no way of knowing how many wrong copies were produced.
It was sold in 1996 2.9 MCHF including premium by David Feldman.
A scoop of the Telegraph has just announced its forthcoming sale without giving details, and it took me a few navigation tips to find the source: the 3 Skilling Yellow comes on May 22 in Geneva at private auction by David Feldman, with a specific catalog. You are now part of the happy few: here is the link to the catalog shared by the auction house.
David Feldman has done a quick calculation. Reduced to its weight, this small artefact of 26.75 milligrams is valued $ 70 billion per kilogram! Who says better?
POST SALE COMMENT
The Treskilling was sold for over $ 2.3 million to a group of buyers who required that the exact amount was not disclosed . I remind that it was a private auction.
Shared by Wikimedia :
1868 Z Grill 15 c
2019 SOLD for $ 1.6M by Cherrystone
The first tests are carried out with the A Grill in 1867. They are promising, but the A Grill covers the entire surface of the stamp, which reduces the production yield due to an excessive mechanical stress.
Released in January 1868, the Z Grill had the only design with horizontal ridges. It was obsoleted in mid February. It is not uncommon for some stamp values but is very rare for 1 cent, 10 cents and 15 cents, certainly for reasons of production sequence.
2 units of the 15 cents Z Grill are known. One of them was sold by Cherrystone on July 12, 2019 for $ 1.6M from an estimate of $ 750K, lot 72.
1918 Inverted Jenny
2021 SOLD for $ 4.9M by Sotheby's
May 15, 1918 is a historic date for the civil aviation : the first regular airmail service is inaugurated in Washington DC by President Wilson. It connects New York to Washington and return, with a change of plane in Philadelphia.
Mail shipping was set at 24c and the two-color stamp was available since the day before. The blue center features the biplane model selected for this service, a Jenny, nickname for the Curtiss JN-4. The preparation of the stamp was made in a hurry. The die for printing the plane had been completed only six days earlier. The engraver added in the picture the serial number of the aircraft scheduled for the official inaugural flight, 38262.
After the inverted images in bicolored US stamps of 1869 and 1901, philatelists hoped that the inverted error would also affect that new bicolor issue. In the morning of that first day, May 14, the administration is informed that a full sheet with the upside-down plane has been sold to a customer in a post office of Washington DC.
The discoverer, William T. Robey, had rushed at the opening of the post office while one of his friends was doing the same in Philadelphia. Warned after the transaction when Robey was asking for another similar sheet, the employee had not been in position to prevent it.
In the afternoon of the same day, the sale to the public is suspended for two hours in Philadelphia, New York and Washington for an inspection of the stock and the scrap of the defective sheets. In order to standardize the shipment, the production process included a trimming of the top edge where both plate numbers, 8493 for the blue and 8492 for the carmine rose, had been printed. The error sheet was an exception where the blue plate reference was left untrimmed, on the opposite edge.
We are still in the heroic time of aviation. The President is upset : he is wasting his precious time. 38262 takes off southward instead of going toward Philadelphia. The pilot tried to land in the countryside and bogged down in a swamp this plane carrying the first mailbag of the new service. Fortunately in the opposite travel on the same day the first north-south transfer is successful.
The reaction of the administration after the Inverted error discovery had been extremely rapid. For the following runs, the word TOP is added at the top edge of the sheet and is checked in a specific production control. On May 21, when the dealer Eugene Klein buys for $ 15,000 from Robey this Inverted Jenny sheet paid for $ 24 six days earlier, it already appears that the additional checks have been effective and that this example will remain unique.
A few hours later, Klein sells the complete sheet to the rich and eccentric collector Colonel Green. The unpleasant trimming had intentionally removed the top and right margins and damaged he perforations in their adjacent stamps. Green does not want to keep the whole. He will only accept the best positions for his collection and entrusts the sale of the rest to Klein. It is at this point that Klein numbers each stamp from 1 to 100 on the reverse of the sheet to record the original position of each stamp before dividing the sheet into singles and blocks.
The blue plate number is printed in the otherwise blank element below position 97. One of the elements kept by Green is a block of eight, 85-88 and 95-98, with its sheet margins, therefore including the plate number.
The quality of the eight stamps was uneven. In 1944 a new owner removed individually the four stamps on the left, which had gum defects and thinning. This rework was judicious. The remaining block, consisting of positions 87, 88, 97, 98 plus the two sheet margins including the plate number below the 97, is extremely fine for the paper, colors, perforations, thickness, original gum and centering.
The unique Inverted Jenny plate block was sold for $ 1.1M by Christie's on October 12, 1989, for $ 2.97M by Robert A. Siegel on October 19, 2005 and for $ 4.9M by Sotheby's on June 8, 2021, lot 2.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Take a closer look at three pocket sized treasures from the collection of famed shoe designer & fashion entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman. On offer in a live sale on 8 June, the historic auction features the world's most rare & valuable coin & stamp specimens. https://t.co/M9FTbFdy2X pic.twitter.com/3kMSIUUYdE— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 27, 2021
Block of Four
2019 SOLD for $ 1.74 by Spink
After the Green sale, the block of eight is separated into a very fine block of four, retaining the inscribed bottom margin, plus four single stamps.
On September 27, 2019, Spink sold for $ 1.74M as Lot 1 one of the blocks of four from Green's selection, consisting of the central positions 45, 46, 55 and 56 of the original sheet. This block is in very fine condition with a small disturbing to the original gum which is common in the Green collection.