Our intention is to share this with everyone, so in addition to making the stamp available for viewing at the Stanley Gibbons flagship store at 399 Strand, London, we plan to democratise the ownership of this unique item.

For the first time ever, you will be able to own your very own piece of the British Guiana 1c Magenta.

Interested? Register below and keep up to date with this exciting project.



You haven’t owned anything quite like it… but soon you can.

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The British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta is the rarest and most famous stamp in the world.

Its remarkable 165-year history is perhaps the greatest story in all philately, a tale involving the foremost collectors, dealers, and experts dating back to the very beginning of the hobby.

The story begins in 1855, when just 5,000 of the expected 50,000 stamps arrived from Great Britain to its colony of British Guiana. The local postmaster found himself in a tough spot. If the colony's letters and newspapers were to be delivered, he was going to need some way to show the transaction of postage paid. So he decided to issue a provisional stamp to keep the mail moving until more postage could arrive from overseas. The only place that could create something with enough official cachet to do the job in 1850s British Guiana was the local newspaper, the Royal Gazette.

The printer of the Gazette produced a stock of one-cent stamps (for newspapers) and four-cent stamps (for letters), attempting to imitate the design of government-issued postage, adding a stock illustration of the ship and the colony’s Latin motto meaning “we give and we ask in return.”

The Gazette printer's imitation worked and the postmaster moved quickly to remove them from circulation once they’d served their purpose. Since the one-cent stamps were used for newspapers, which few people saved, most disappeared shortly after their usage.

The existence of the One-Cent Magenta would likely have been forgotten altogether had it not been for a 12-year-old Scottish boy named Vernon Vaughan, living in British Guiana, who found one odd stamp among his uncle’s papers in 1873. The peculiar stamp hardly struck the boy as very valuable, so the budding philatelist soon sold it for a less-than-princely six shillings. Thus began the decades-long, cross-continental journey of the One-Cent Magenta.

The new owner recognised it as something special. Shillings quickly became pounds and finally the temptation became too great. His collection, One-Cent and all, was dispatched to Great Britain.

An enterprising young dealer from Liverpool named Thomas Ridpath recognized the opportunity and purchased the stamp on the spot. In a few short weeks it had crossed the English Channel to France and into the greatest collection of all time, that of the eccentric recluse Philipp von Ferrary

Following the death of Ferrary in 1922,  the world gathered for the sale of his treasures. For the first time an image of the stamp appeared and the world at large had its first glimpse. The successful buyer, an American industrialist named Arthur Hind, paid over $32,500.

For the first time the stamp travelled to exhibitions around the world. Seven years after his death in 1933, his widow sold the stamp for $45,000 to a mysterious Australian businessman.

Irwin Weinberg and a consortium made further history in 1970 when they purchased the British Guiana for $280,000, again shattering the record price for a postage stamp .When it returned to auction in New York in 1980, John du Pont raised the bar even further to $935,000. 

On June 17 2014, famed shoe designer Stuart Weitzman purchased the British Guiana for $9,480,000 at Sotheby’s New York. Weitzman added the eighth mark to the verso of the British Guiana, following the precedent set by all previous owners of the past one hundred and forty-three years.  

On June 8 2021, the world’s longest established rare stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons purchased the stamp for $8,307,000. Stanley Gibbons are looking to democratise access to the most elite club in collecting history and offer fractional ownership of the rarest and most valuable stamp in the world. 



Interested? Register and keep up to date with this exciting project.


Stanley Gibbons, The Home of Stamp Collecting, is delighted to announce that we have purchased the world’s most famous and valuable stamp.


What is fractional ownership?

Fractional ownership allows numerous, unconnected people to legally share in the ownership of an asset. This is typically an asset of significant value which many would not be willing or able to own in its entirety.
Many fractional ownership offerings also incorporate additional benefits which relate directly to the item in question. For example, fractional ownership of a property often allows the owners to stay at the property for a limited time. Our offering will be consistent with this.

What benefits will there be to fractional ownership of the 1c-Magenta?

We intend to provide a number of digital and physical benefits which will make the experience of ownership an exciting and enjoyable one. These will be exclusive to owners.
The details are currently being finalised but the responses to both our questionnaire and the many discussions we have had with collectors have been extremely helpful in helping to shape this.
All owners will also proportionally share in the proceeds resulting from an increase in the value of the stamp.

Would I legally own part of the stamp?

Absolutely. Legal ownership rights will be contractually embedded into each piece of the stamp so your ownership rights will be in exactly the same proportion as the number of units you own compared to the total number of units outstanding.
The number outstanding will not change and no units will have superior or additional rights of control.
We will of course also make the underlying legal contract publically available.

How much influence would I have over what happens to the stamp?

Part of creating a truly democratised ownership structure includes giving everybody with an economic interest in the item a say over what happens to it.
As such, all owners will have voting rights in proportion to their ownership. These will include aspects such as whether to accept an offer for the whole item but we may also at times ask the owners to vote on specific questions about what we should do with the stamp.

Where will the stamp be kept?

It will be housed at 399 Strand. When it is not on display, it will be in our alarmed, temperature and humidity controlled underground vault.
When it is on display, it will be housed within a bespoke display cabinet which incorporates a range of security and conservation related features.

Will I be able to sell my interest in the stamp?

While many of our customers have told us that they would intend to keep their units indefinitely, we recognise the importance of flexibility and being able to sell them efficiently.
In the months following the launch, we plan to create a platform through which ownership pieces can be bought and sold. We will provide more details about this prior to launch.

Is it insured?

Yes, it is fully insured. Should anything untoward happen to it, as an underlying owner, you would be due the proceeds consistent with the proportion of your ownership.

What if something happens to Stanley Gibbons?

Your ownership rights would be completely unaffected.
This includes not only your economic rights but also your voting rights with regard to any proposed sale.
Any corporate activity relating to Stanley Gibbons such as a change in ownership or financial structure will not influence this.

Are there any identity checks I would need to go through prior to purchase?

By law we are required to make certain checks under Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering regulations for purchases of £10,000 and over.
If you are interested in making a purchase of greater value than this, please let us know and we will ensure all of the necessary checks are made in a timely manner.
If you are an existing Stanley Gibbons client, you may not need to go through these checks.
If your purchase is below £10,000, you are unlikely to need to go through any verification process.

It must cost quite a bit to look after properly and insure – do I have to pay for that?

It is currently our intention that all costs of ownership such as insurance, security, conservation etc are paid for and will continue to be paid for by Stanley Gibbons.
The import tax to bring the item into the UK from the US has also been paid by Stanley Gibbons.

Will you accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

It is our intention to allow payment to be made using certain cryptocurrencies, alongside traditional purchasing options such card payment.

Is it safe?

At every step of the way, we have tried to ensure that our customers are entirely protected – we understand that security and peace of mind are absolutely vital.
This includes ensuring that the legal contracts and structure are robust, that the item is fully insured, that storage and display arrangements are secure and that your data and our records of ownership are equally secure.

What price will the initial fractional sale be at?

The price of the stamp, the number of pieces we will create and therefore the price per piece are all yet to be confirmed.
We are however committed to the underlying concept of democratisation and therefore are committed to ensuring that individual pieces will be affordably priced.

How and when will the decision to sell be made?

When a buyout offer is received for the stamp, the offer will be vetted to ensure its validity before allowing owners to vote on whether it should be accepted or not. If the offer is accepted, owners will receive the proportionate proceeds on completion.

When will it go on display?

We have commissioned the display cabinet in which the stamp will be housed when on display and our wider plans for creating a wonderful experience for everybody are well advanced. Both of these things will however take a little time before they are ready but rest assured that we are as enthusiastic as anybody about the opportunity to let it be seen and hope to be able to announce more details around this in the coming weeks.