Updated by Laura | 9th July 2020
When the first stamp was issued in 1840, few could have suspected that it would inspire a passion that would last for centuries. The only thing that has increased more than the historical significance of stamps is the amount of money stamp collectors can make from them. Our experts have curated a list of the most expensive stamps in the world, and explained why each is so valuable.
The Penny Black - €3,000
Issued in the United Kingdom in May 1840, the Penny Black was the first adhesive stamp in the world, which is why this stamp is considered so valuable. The Penny Black carries a picture of Queen Victoria II and does not show the country of origin, as is custom today. Despite there being plenty of Penny Blacks for sale, an unused one can earn a lucky owner around €3,000, making it a very popular amongst collectors.
The Penny Black was the first adhesive stamp
Inverted Swan - €35,500
The Inverted Swan is one of the most famous and unique stamps in the world, not because of its beauty, but rather because it was one of the first invert errors in the world. The Inverted Swan was issued in Perth, Australia in 1855, when a complicated process of producing these stamps through lithography was followed. However, contrary to popular belief, it is actually the frame that is inverted rather than the swan. This famous stamp was last sold in 1983 for €35,500.
The Inverted Swan is the first example of a valuable invert error
Red Mercury - €37,000
The Red Mercury stamp is extremely valuable due to its rarity. Rather than a postage stamp, the Red Mercury was used for mailing newspapers. These stamps possess an image of the Roman god and were printed in yellow, red and blue depending on a number of newspapers in the bundle. However, the Red Mercury was short-lived and was soon replaced, which is why so few copies have survived and why they hold such a high value of €37,000.
The Red Mercury stamp was used for delivering newspapers
Hawaiian Missionaries - €39,000
Despite the cheap blue paper that the Hawaiian Missionaries stamp was printed on, these are amongst the rarest and most valuable stamps of all time, now worth around €39,000. The Hawaiian Missionaries were the first stamps to be produced in Hawaii and were predominantly used in correspondence between missionaries, hence their name.
Despite the cheap paper, Hawaiian Missionaries stamps have become incredibly valuable
Inverted Dendermonde - €75,000
The Inverted Dendermonde, which showcases the town hall upside down, is Belgium’s greatest contribution to printing errors. Although this error leaked through two sheets of the stamp’s first run and one pane of the second, only 17 are known to still exist. It is rumoured that two of these stamps were lost when a famous stamp collector was murdered in 1942. If you wanted to get your hands on the remaining few, it would set you back an estimated €75,000.
The Inverted Dendermonde may have been motivation for a murder in 1942
Inverted Jenny - €750,000
Another printing error is what placed the huge price tag on the Inverted Jenny. Now worth around €750,000, this stamp features an upside-down image of the Curtiss JN-4 airplane and was issued in the US in 1918. Only 100 copies managed to make it through printing, which is why the Inverted Jenny is valued so highly.
Only 100 copies of the Inverted Jenny were ever printed
Baden 9 Kreuzer - Around €1 Million
Rather than being valuable for an image error, the Baden 9-Kreuzer takes its value from an error in the colour used. A 9-Kreuzer stamp has the face value of 9-Kreuzer and is colored pink, whilst the 6-Kreuzer stamps were green. However, an error in printing meant that a batch of 9-Kreuzer stamps was colored green, rather than pink. Only four are known to exist and one was sold in 2008 for over €1 million.
A green Baden 9-Kreuzer can reach a six figure sum at auction.
The First Two Mauritius - Over €1 Million
Issued in 1847 in Mauritius during the British Colony, these stamps were modeled on the British stamps with an image of Queen Victoria. With only 26 known copies known to still exist and as the first British Commonwealth Stamps to be produced outside of Great Britain, it is no wonder that the Mauritius stamps hold a value of over €1 million each.
The first British Commonwealth Stamps to be produced outside Great Britain
The Treskilling Yellow - Over €2.1 Million
The Treskilling Yellow is considered to be one of the most expensive postage stamps in the world, due to the fact instead of being printed in the usual colours (blue-green) it was actually printed in yellow. This Swedish misprinted stamp issued in 1855 is believed to be the only surviving copy to exist, which is why it is worth over €2.1 million. The stamp has been sold a few times and with each sale its value climbs.
The only copy of the Treskilling Yellow in existence
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