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.