British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta

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British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta
British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta, actual appearance
country British Guiana, now Guyana
Face value 1 cent
First day 1856
Date of Expiry
Motif Sailing ship with a motto
colour magenta
draft Joseph Baum and William Dallas
Print type High pressure
perforation cut
particularities probably unique
Edition unknown

The British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta is a well-known and since 2014 the most expensive philatelic collector's item in the world. It is listed in many stamp catalogs under the year of issue 1856, although there is no evidence that it was officially made or issued at the time.

The British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta was printed and cut on magenta- colored paper . The motif , a ship surrounded by the Latin inscription “Damus Petimus Que Vicissim” ( German “We give and take in change” ), was printed in black.  

History of origin

Originally, the Guianas postal administration intended to issue a permanent series with three different stamps in the value levels 1 cent in magenta for city mail, 4 cents in magenta for international mail and 4 cents in cloudy blue for sea mail.

The two 4-cent stamps were intended exclusively for letter post, the one-cent stamp for cards or wrappers.

The stamps originally ordered from the British postal administration never reached the capital, Georgetown. Therefore, the head of the postal administration Guiana, ETE Dalton, gave the order to the newspaper printer The Official Gazette (Joseph Baum and William Dallas) to produce appropriate temporary editions. The designs favored by Dalton did not get to print; rather, Baum and Dallas were able to enforce “their” sailing ships.

As a security feature against forgery and imitation, the stamps were provided with the EDW spring balancer (initials of the post office clerk ED Wight).

A special feature is that the British Philatelist Association refuses to give the stamp the seal of authenticity, especially since there is a discussion among experts that the British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta is not actually a postage stamp in the true sense, but a postal stationery cutout . The most convincing evidence for this thesis is the octagonal section it has. Pieces trimmed in this way only exist in old collector's albums as clippings from envelopes printed with value stamps. The other values ​​in this series are each cut square and have significantly lower collector value.

History of the owners

The specimen, which has been known for more than a century, was allegedly found in 1873 by the twelve-year-old Scottish student Vernon Vaughan from Demerara, a town in Guyana, while looking through letters from his uncle. However, he could not find this stamp in his stamp catalog , as it was not yet known. It was similar to the 4-cent temporary solution that was already known at the time, but the value of 1 cent was unknown. The unsuspecting student sold them to a local stamp dealer named NR McKinnon for what he considered to be a very high price of six shillings . On October 2, 1878, his collection was sold to the stamp dealer Thomas Ridpath through a Scottish collector. From his hands it ended up in the collection of the most famous philatelist of the time, Philipp von Ferrary . He bought it then, according to his records, for $ 750. In his will he bequeathed the stamp and his entire collection to the Reichspostmuseum in Berlin . In the course of the confiscation and foreclosure of Ferrary's collection as "enemy property" by the French government after World War I , the stamp was bought by Arthur Hind at auction in 1922 for $ 36,000. The proceeds were credited to Germany's reparations account. Those outbid included King George V of Great Britain and two other crowned heads.

Hind's widow sold the brand in 1940 for $ 40,000 to an industrialist from Florida, who sold it to an industrial syndicate (Chairman Irwin Weinberg) from Pennsylvania in 1970 for $ 280,000. The brand was shown at numerous exhibitions around the world for ten years before it found a new owner in John E. du Pont in 1980 for $ 935,000 . This sum earned the British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta the reputation of the rarest and most expensive postage stamp in the world for a long time. DuPont spent the rest of his life in a Philadelphia mental health institution in February 1997 after being convicted of manslaughter on wrestler David Schultz . He died on December 9, 2010.

On June 17, 2014, the brand was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York. The price result was a total of 9.48 million US dollars (approx. 6.97 million euros) including buyer's premium, making it the most expensive philatelic collector's item in the world ahead of the Bordeaux letter . An unnamed telephone bidder bought the brand. In 2015 it was announced that the American shoe designer Stuart Weitzman is the new owner of the brand.

Alleged further copies

Faithful to the original reprint of a British Guiana 1 ¢ magenta, unused, with pen-and-pen authorization
British Guiana magenta 4 cents as a comparison piece

In 1999, the brand caused another sensation when Peter Winter , who became famous for fake collector's devotional items, claimed to be in possession of a 1-cent magenta. The brand has been certified as genuine by two European experts, Rolf Roeder and David Feldman. The British stamp collectors' association, the Royal Philatelic Society, London , however, considers them to be a falsified four-cent stamp.


The illustration shows the actual condition of the stamp only insufficiently, because it is not only badly soiled, but also faded over time, the originally magenta color of the paper turned a dirty pink. In the English specialist literature it is described as "dirty and heavily postmarked" (dirty and badly defaced by means of cancellation such as stamp and pen). The right edge of the stamp (with the value “one cent”) does not have a clear cut, but an irregular paper separation.


  • The mark appears in the film The Saint in Palm Springs (1941). There it is valued at $ 65,000.
  • Even Donald Duck examined in Carl Barks ' comic The Gilded Man (German title: Hunt for the Red Magenta ) 1952 by the brand as a collector would be willing to pay 50,000 dollars.
  • In the TV series " The Streets of San Francisco " the episode "The stamp of death" (Eng .: "An expensive piece of paper") from 1973 a. a. around this brand, albeit as “six cent - magenta”.


  • British Guiana 1 cent from 1856. In: Julius Kaufmann: Twelve famous postage stamps. Self-published, Tel Aviv 1960, pp. 52–58.
  • LN Williams: Encyclopaedia of Rare and Famous Stamps. Volume 1 The Stories. Feldman, Geneva 1993, ISBN 0-89192-435-3 , pp. 23-30.
  • LN Williams: Encyclopaedia of Rare and Famous Stamps. Volume 2 The Biographies. Feldman, Geneva 1997, ISBN 2-9700125-1-0 , p. 27.
  • British Guiana 1c, 1856: "For me both are the 'Turin Shroud' of philately". In: philately No. 443, May 2014, pp. 12-20.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ British Guiana 1c, 1856: World rarity or fake? Association of German Philatelists (BDPh) e. V. (PDF, 373 kB)
  2. ^ R. Scott Carlton: The International Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Philatelics . Krause, Iola, WI 1997, ISBN 0-87341-448-9 , p. 36.
  3. ^ Rachlin, Harvey: Lucy's Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einstein's Brain: The Remarkable Stories Behind the Great Artifacts of History, From Antiquity to the Modern Era . Henry Holt and Company, 1996, ISBN 0-8050-6406-0 .
  4. DuPont heir this in prison . United Press International . December 9, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  5. The world's most expensive brand is up for sale again! , accessed February 24, 2014
  6. ^ "The British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta"
  7. ^ Rare British Guiana stamp sets record at New York auction, June 17, 2014
  8. Rare British Guiana stamp sells for record $ 9.5 million ( Memento of the original from June 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on with material from Reuters June 18, 2014 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. Stuart Weitzman is the owner of the 1c-Br. Guiana ( Memento of the original from July 8, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed July 7, 2015 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Plagiarism: Card from the Cold . In: Der Spiegel . No. 22 , 1995, p. 136 ( online - May 23, 1995 ).
  11. Sheryll Oswald: Peter Winter and the modern German forgeries on eBay (July 28, 2001)
  12. ^ British Guiana 1c, 1856: World rarity or fake? Association of German Philatelists (BDPh) e. V. (PDF, 373 kB)
  13. The Saint in Palm Springs in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  14. ^ COA: Donald Duck: The Gilded Man