When stamps first went on sale back on July 1, 1847, who would have guessed that they’d become coveted collectibles over the centuries?
(The children who started collecting them from as early as the 1860s for one).
And while writing letters and running to the post office hasn’t been a common occurrence for a number of decades, stamp collecting has continued to bloom.
With the most expensive stamps (and obviously the rarest) in the world listed below, you can see why despite being a nerdible collectible (as all things are on this site), those who own the most valuable stamps are having the last laugh:
CHECK OUT: The Most Valuable Stamps From U.S. History.
8. Inverted Declaration of Independence, 1869
In 2008, the inverted declaration of independence broke the highest value of sale for an inverted stamp – coming in at $1.2 million.
Being the first US stamps to be printed in two colors, these stamps required additional work to produce. Since these stamps had to be printed twice, printing carelessly would result in an inverted frame-image stamp – hence why they’re so rare.
While these pictorial stamps were withdrawn within a year of their release back in the 1800s, they are said to be the most popular between the 1840s and 1870s series of Classic Stamps. Just like several others on this list, finding one is a complicated task.
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7. Baden 9 Kreuzer Error
Who would have thought that a list of the most expensive (and most rare) stamps around the world would be filled with more error-filled stamps rather than the perfect ones?
This rare German stamp made its way on the list due to the printer’s error of reading the ordered “6” color as a “9,” which led to the stamp being printed as a sharp green.
One copy of the Kreuzer was sold in 2008 for $1.5 million. However, there were only two copies of the stamp until the philatelic club meeting in 1894, where Baron von Turckheim discovered two additional stamps.
Surprisingly, it is believed that there has been an addition to the number in 2019 as an American found another Baden 9 stamp in his family album. We might never know how many there could be in total.
6. Inverted Jenny, 1918
Another significant error stamp that paved its way in history was the Inverted Jenny, 1918 of the USA.
Featuring the image of a Curtiss JN-4, the stamp was mistakenly sold by a Washington, DC clerk who had never been able to witness the sight of a plane.
However, collectors are thankful to him as this 24-cent face value stamp was most recently sold for $1.593 million.
Even though there are approximately 86 other stamps in circulation, this particular stamp had been away from sun, light, and other exposures, making it a pristine and valuable stamp.
5. The Whole Country is Red
With a worker, farmer, and soldier featuring on the front, this red stamp could only be issued for half a day. The stamp outlined and colored the entire country of China in red.
However, they only bordered the Island of Taiwan. Soon, controversies began, and the roll-out of the stamps had to be stopped. Issued during the cultural revolution of 1968 in China, all the stamp copies had to be returned.
However, a few had made their way into private collections. Today, with only nine of these in existence, one sold in 2018 for $2 million.
4. Mauritius Post Office Stamp
There are a couple of reasons behind the importance of the Mauritius pair of post office stamps. Firstly, these stamps were the first British Empire stamps that were made outside the country. Secondly, the stamps were always sold in pairs.
With a pair of “One Penny Red” and “Two Penny Blue”, the stamps were last sold in 1993 for $3.83 million.
Lastly, the local Mauritius watchmaker who had received the contract printed the words “Post Office” instead of “Post Paid” on the stamps.
This error in the printing process could not be figured out until 200 pairs had already been distributed. However, out of the total 200, only 30 have survived till the 21st century.
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3. Error of Color, 1859
With a blue background instead of the planned yellow-orange, the Sicilian Error of Color is one of today’s most well-preserved stamps.
While other stamps wait to be discovered, the Error of Color has made its mark by being fresh and looking like it has been printed recently. Featuring a sharp bearded man, the costliest Italian stamp was sold online for $2.6 million in 2011 at an auction.
With just two stamps in existence today, the fine condition and history of these stamps are the reason behind their rarity.
2. Treskilling Yellow, 1855
The truth behind the higher values of misprinted or faltered historical stamps comes to light with the Swedish 1855 Treskilling Yellow.
The prices of this to-be green stamp have been unknown since its sale in 2010. While the stamp was sold for $2.3 million in 1996, its sale prices in 2010 and 2014 have remained a mystery.
However, when it made its 2010 sale, David Feldman claimed that the price was higher than any of the stamps sold before. As the #1 on this list was not in the picture back in 2010, the Treskilling remained the market leader.
Even though both these stamps exchanged another pair of hands in 2014, the undisclosed price of Treskilling gives it the second position on the list. With just one Treskilling in circulation, collectors believe that there are several others to be found.
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1. British Guiana 1-Cent Magenta, 1856
With the first stamp being sold for only six shillings, who would have believed that the British Guiana would become the costliest stamp ever to be sold at $9.48 million in 2014.
When the postmaster general of British Guiana ordered three different stamps to be made in 1856, the shipment soon went missing, causing an emergency production.
However, this was the only copy of the production run that is known to exist today. After exchanging a couple of hands, the current owner of this rare stamp is the high-end shoe designer Stuart Weitzman.