Stamp collecting is often a hidden passion, yet rare U.S. stamps are history, art, even antiques — and can be worth life-changing amounts of money.
There could be several reasons behind the high value of these small pieces of paper. While some could be firsts of their kind, others could be a printing mistake.
These are the rare U.S. stamps collectors covet:
8. 15c Landing of Columbus Stamp
Columbus’s landing is an important day in America’s history, and in 1869 it was celebrated with a pictorial series of stamps. This landmark occasion is marked by two different variations of the 15c Columbus Stamp.
While the difference between the two stamps is just a line, the earlier stamp is much scarcer than the latter. A block of six 15c stamps was sold for $150,000 in 2018.
7. 1c Benjamin Franklin Vertical Pair
The first Franklin stamp on the list is the vertical pair of 1908-1909.
During the last few days of December 1908, the Post Office Department created simple and cleaner stamps for the public after receiving severe criticism on their former stamps.
The 1c Franklin vertical pair of stamps make their way on to the list due to their double line paper and watermark from the U.S. Postal Service. Since the watermark would be applied to the entire sheet, each stamp of this type would expect a different valuation.
An unused stamp received $310,000 in 2015.
6. 30c Shield, Eagle, and Flags Stamp
The 30c Shield, Eagle, and Flags stamp was part of the 1869 series of pictorial stamps. They were the first stamps to feature something other than portraits of famed personalities.
The 30c stamp featured flags painted in blue with the shield in the middle in red. Issues with colors and the placement of denomination made production tricky, so much so, printing stopped after only one year.
Since these stamps were the first ones to be printed in two colors, there were two sets of printing processes that they went through. When an accident would occur, it would give rise to one of the rare inverted 30c stamps, one of which fetched $310,500 at an auction in 2016.
5. 1c Benjamin Franklin Stamp (1851)
There were eight basic types of these 1851 one-cent stamps, for which printing plates had to be laid by hand. This was then followed by re-cutting adjustments to create the final stamp.
The stamp on this list was one that made the unaltered die impression of the original stamp design. While there were small fluctuations in the others like minor blurring, today, there are only a total of two in mint condition, and only one hundred used samples in existence. One of which was sold for $375,000 in October 2007.
CHECK OUT: The 5 Most Valuable Quarters From U.S. History.
4. 24c Declaration of Independence stamp
The 24c Declaration is a masterpiece in itself as it commemorates the independence of thirteen American colonies from Great Britain. The 4th of July, 1776, witnessed one of the most historic days in U.S. history by laying down the foundation of global democracy worldwide.
The two-colored independence stamp carries a face value of 24 cents and has three different variations in split, double grill, or G grill.
Like with many incredibly valuable stamps, unique imperfections create extreme value. And there was a unique stamp with an inverted center, which was sold for $625,000 in 2018.
This U.S. independence stamp acted as a stepping stone for the other countries to create their own independence stamps.
3. 1c Benjamin Franklin Stamp (1868)
Just like how the US’s first president plays an integral role in the country’s first few stamps, Benjamin Franklin had stamps featuring his portrait issued in 1868.
The rare Z-grill and horizontal ridges add to the uniqueness of the stamp. As only two of these stamps exist, both of them are priced exceptionally high. One of which sold for $850,000 during an auction in 1998.
2. 3c George Washington Stamp
The year 1847 was significant for stamp collectors as it was the first year in which the public could purchase stamps from the government. When the U.S. got its first president, his portrait became the go-to picture for several posts, paintings, and stamps.
Unlike many valuable stamps, this 3c stamp isn’t valuable because of its unique errors. Its primary value is because of the President, scarcity, and the B grill design.
In 2008, one of these stamps was sold for $900,000. While there were around 1,000 stamps of this kind, only four are known to exist today.
1. Inverted Jenny Stamp
The rarest U.S. stamp ever printed is one with an error on it. The Inverted Jenny, which was issued in 1918, had a face value of just 24 cents. However, today the stamp is valued at $1.35 million.
The high value of the stamp is determined by the mistake in printing the airplane upside down. The clerk in Washington DC who sold over 100 of these stamps had never seen a plane and sold these stamps without seeing the error.
With its recent auction in 2016, the Inverted Jenny is one of the most valuable stamps worldwide.