The first postage stamp in historyaccording to Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, was issued in 1840 in the UK. It is known in philatelic communities as Penny Blackas it cost a penny and was printed on black.
The baptism of fire of these postal stickers in the United States occurred 1847 e depicted Benjamin Franklin. Unlike the British pioneer, this stamp cost a good five cents.
It’s been a century and a half since they were first issued and you might think they are real rarities of the kind, but you are very wrong. Indeed, Penny Black and the Benjamin Franklin stamp are pieces that very many philatelists have in their collection. Today they are available at relatively “humble” prices, ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, depending on the condition of the heirloom.
But then what is the rarest photogram in the world, if not these two? Well, there is a single copy stamp about to be auctioned, from Sotheby’s, for more than 10 million dollars.
To understand the importance of this piece we must take a step back in time to 1850s British Guiana (now Guyana). As can be seen from the denomination of the state, the nation was a British colony and, as such, was characterized by an efficient English bureaucracy. The narrative has it that master was waiting for a shipment of British stamps to arrive. To make up for the wait, he would have stipulated a contracted with a local printer. What was born is a very simple postage stamp on magenta paper. At the time, there were no anti-counterfeiting measures, so postal workers they had to initial the framebefore putting it into circulation.
We don’t know how many pieces were put into circulation, but currently there is only one left. Last time a Sheath 1c Magenta was sold, it got a valuation of $8.3 million. You can admire it below.
By the way, do you know what kind of stamp the “Gronchi rosa” is?
[Wikimedia Commons, Joseph Baum and William Dallas]