The one-cent magenta from British colonial Guyana, sold for a world record US$9.5 million at a New York auction on Tuesday.
It took just two minutes for an anonymous collector on the phone to seal the deal after quick-fire bidding opened at US$4.5 million in a packed room at Sotheby’s in Manhattan.
The auction house had valued the tiny specimen of British colonial memorabilia at US$10-20 million, an estimate which it said was vindicated by the sale price.
“The stamp has just sold for approximately US$9.5 million, which means it has set a new world record price for a stamp,” announced David Redden, the auctioneer and Sotheby’s director of special projects.
The previous auction record for a single stamp was US$2.2 million, set by the Treskilling Yellow in 1996.
There is only one known example of the One-Cent Magenta, which was printed in Georgetown, the capital of the South American colony of British Guiana – now Guyana – in 1856 by order of ET Dalton, the then local postmaster-general.
In 1980, the stamp set a record at auction when it was bought by John Eleuthère du Pont, heir to the du Pont chemical company fortune, for $935,000.
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