One Cent Magenta
In the tradition of The Orchid Thief, the story of a magnificent obsession, the world’s most famous rare stamp, and the lucky few collectors who have owned it.
The One-Cent Magenta is a hugely entertaining and swashbuckingly yarn that explores the life of a magnificent obsession through the stories of the people who loved and lost it.
When it was issued in 1856, it cost a penny. In 2014, this tiny square of faded red paper known as the one-cent magenta sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $US9.5 million, the highest amount ever paid for a postage stamp at auction. Through the stories of the eccentric characters who have bought, owned and sold this stamp, The One-Cent Magenta weaves a fascinating tale of obsession to own a treasure that no one else can have.
One-cent magentas were provisional stamps, printed in British Guiana when a shipment of official stamps from London failed to arrive. They were intended for periodicals, and most were thrown out. But one stamp survived. It has had only nine owners since a 12-year-old Scottish boy discovered it in 1873 (and sold it for what would be $17 today). Later owners included a fabulously wealthy Frenchman who hid the stamp from view – even King George V of England couldn’t get a peek – a businessman who travelled with the stamp in a briefcase he handcuffed to his wrist; and John E. du Pont, heir to the chemical fortune, who died while serving a thirty-year sentence for the murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz.
Key Selling Points
* In the bestselling tradition of Susan Orleans’ The Orchid Thief and Simon Winchester.
* Fascinating timeline of the one-cent magenta printed on reverse of cover jacket.
* The incredible story of the world’s most famous and valuable rare stamp, told through the stories of its lucky few collectors.
* One of the only nine owners was an Australian-born engineer – another a murderer.
* Discovered by a 12-year-old boy who sold it for less than twenty bucks!
* The only stamp of its kind in the world, it has broken the world record for a single stamp auction price each of the last four times it has been sold.