Since the turn of the twentieth century, collectors have swooned over rare and unusual stamps. In fact, there’s even a field of research, called philately, devoted to the study of valuable stamps. You might ask why someone would spend so much time and/or money on a small piece of sticky paper that once graced the top corner of an envelope.The reason is that, like similarly expensive collectibles such as comic books and baseball cards, many stamps rise in value phenomenally compared to other stamps.
The late Alfred H. Caspary is one of the best examples of a person who successfully profited from stamp collecting. Almost a century ago, Caspary started collecting stamps–but not just any stamps! Caspary only purchased the most valuable ones he could find. He did this with the intention of investing for his family’s future, a goal many stamp collectors still hold. His stamp collection went on to fetch world record setting prices upon his death with his heirs reaping all of the benefits.
The Treskilling Yellow – $2.3 million or more
The world’s most expensive stamp was printed in Sweden in 1855 and was the result of a printing error. Instead of printing the three-skilling stamp on green stock, it was printed on yellow/orange stock paper. In 1970, the authenticity of this misprinted stamp was questioned by the Swedish Postal Museum, but it was found to be genuine. Similar printing errors have resulted in many other expensive collectibles such as misprinted coins and baseball cards.
Only one copy of the “Treskilling Yellow” postage stamp is known to exist. The most expensive stamp in the world was part of the first Swedish stamp series in the years 1855 and, in 1886, a young collector named George William Backman discovered this stamp in his grandmother’s attic.
The stamp has changed hands numerous times since then. One of the stamp’s first owners since Backman’s discovery was Philipp von Ferrary, who acquired it in 1894 as an addition to his then unequaled stamp collection.
Ferrary’s collection was auctioned in the 1920s and made its way into the hands of such notables as Baron Eric Leijonhufvud of Sweden and eventually King Carol II of Romania.
It first achieved a million US dollar price tag when it was sold in 1990. Six years later, it was sold for 2.5 million Swiss francs–around US $2.3 million.
In 2010, the stamp made headlines again with a record-breaking sale to an international consortium. While the exact figure is unknown, auctioneer David Feldman–who sold the stamp from his own collection in 1984 and oversaw this most recent sale–revealed that it at least maintained the $2.3 million price achieved in 1996.
Andi Herzog Lenticular Stamp – $8.42
Old stamps aren’t the only expensive stamps, though. While it isn’t likely that anyone will ever pay millions of dollars for a new stamp, Austrians were recently given the option of buying the most expensive stamp in print.
This revolutionary stamp isn’t any ordinary stamp, of course. It’s a lenticular stamp featuring approximately three minutes of footage of Austria’s legendary football player, Andi Herzog. The footage shows the goal that allowed Austria to compete in the World Championships in 1998. It’s even shown from three different angles.
The most expensive stamp in print is also the largest one. It measures in at 6.5 by 4.7 cm (or around 2.5 by 1.8 inches). It can be purchased for €5.45 (around $8.42).