The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World

By | October 7, 2017
The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World Author James Barron
ISBN-10 1616205180
ISBN-13 9781616205188
Year 2017-03-07
Pages 224
Language English
Publisher Algonquin Books
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An inside look at the obsessive secretive and often bizarre world of high profile stamp collecting told through the journey of the worlds most sought after stamp When it was issued in 1856 it cost a penny In 2014 this tiny square of faded red paper sold at Sothebys for nearly 9 5 million the largest amount ever paid for a postage stamp at auction Through the stories of the eccentric characters who have bought owned and sold the one cent magenta in the years in between James Barron delivers a fascinating tale of global history and immense wealth and of the human desire to collect One cent magentas were provisional stamps printed quickly in what was then British Guiana when a shipment of official stamps from London did not arrive They were intended for periodicals and most were thrown out with the newspapers But one stamp survived The singular one cent magenta has had only nine owners since a twelve year old boy discovered it in 1873 as he sorted through papers in his uncles house He soon sold it for what would be 17 today Thats been called the worst stamp deal in history Among later owners was a fabulously wealthy Frenchman who hid the stamp from almost everyone even King George V of England couldnt get a peek a businessman who traveled with the stamp in a briefcase he handcuffed to his wrist and John E du Pont an heir to the chemical fortune who died while serving a thirty year sentence for the murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz Recommended for fans of Nicholas A Basbanes Susan Orlean and Simon Winchester The One Cent Magenta explores the intersection of obsessive pursuits and great affluence and asks why we want most what is most rare

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