On June 17th, Sotheby’s will auction the most expensive object by weight and size ever sold: the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, a one-of-a-kind stamp with an infamous history. Paperless Post CEO James Hirschfeld sat down with David Redden of Sotheby’s to talk stamps, design, and the value of virtual paper.
Read part one of this conversation on Sothebys.com. Our favorite quote: “$50,000 for a bunch of ducks is a lot of money.”
The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta is a singular object. Delicate and wisp-like yet striking in its color, it is the only surviving stamp of a limited run from 1856. Shrouded in more mystery than one might expect of a 26-millimeter-tall stamp, its story brings together an unlikely cast: a twelve-year-old schoolboy; an Austrian nobleman; a textile tycoon and his entrepreneurial widow; a collector who traveled the world with the stamp handcuffed to his wrist; and a convicted murderer who died in prison just four years ago. Rumor has it that a second surviving stamp surfaced in 1938, only to be burned to ash immediately upon purchase.