The 1856 One-Cent Black-on-Magenta on display at Sotheby’s York Avenue, NY, NY. (Sotheby’s image)
By Nicosia Smith
There is a buzz in the world of stamp collectors.
And this is why.
The British Guiana 1856 One-Cent Black-on-Magenta will soon go on sale.
And it is estimated to be sold for between $10M to $20M when it goes on auction June 17 at Sotheby’s (On display until Friday).
All by itself, the stamp takes center stage on Sotheby’s first floor, far right corner.
A very wired guard at the entrance of the exhibit keeps a keen eye, before you reach the descending few stairs to the stamp.
The significance of the occasion rests on you.
The verso of the British Guiana one-cent magenta stamp showing the initials and marks of some previous owners. (Sotheby’s image)
In a darkly lit room, there it was, a small florence-like beam shining on it.
While a very knowledgeable attendant nearby gives you a history of the very famous and rarest stamp in circulation.
Such a small object, but holding so much significant history. I took a moment.
According to Sotheby’s, in July 1850 British Guiana form an inland postal service.
And in 1852, British Guiana began receiving regular postage stamps, manufactured in England by Waterlow & Sons.
But in 1856, a shipment of stamps from England was delayed and threatened a disruption of postal service throughout British Guiana.
Colonial postmaster, E.T.E. Dalton, got local printers Joseph Baum and William Dallas, to print a contingency supply of postage stamps
Baum and Dallas were publishers of the Royal Gazette newspaper in Georgetown, British Guiana at the time.
They attempted to mimic the appearance of the Waterlow stamps and produced a series of three definitive stamps for the colony: the One-cent Magenta, a four-cent magenta, and a four-cent blue.
The one-cent magenta stamp is the sole survivor from its series.
I was told that the printing press for the one-cent magenta still survives in now Guyana, formerly British Guiana.