The legendary British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp has ever been owed by a Scottish schoolboy, an Austrian nobleman and an American chemical heir accused of murder. The fourth owner may be defined during the Sotheby’s auction in New York to be held on June 17. The initial price is set to more than $10 million.
The stamp features an image of a ship obscured by a postmark bearing the motto of the then British colony: Damus Petimus Que Vicissim (We give and seek in return).
For the last time the stamp was sold in 1980 for $935,000 to John E. du Pont, a heir to the du Pont chemical fortune who died in prison after being found guilty of murder of an Olympic wrestler.
Earlier Irwin Weinberg, an 86-year old stamp dealer bought the British Guiana stamp in 1970 for $280,000. Although Mr. Weinberg called the stamp "faded" and "ugly", he always locked it in a briefcase handcuffed to his hand during the exhibitions.
Before that, in 1873 a Scottish 12-year-old living in British Guiana discovered the unique stamp in family papers and sold it to a local dealer for several shillings.
According to Sotheby's, it is the only British Colonial stamp missing from the royal collection of Queen Elizabeth II. If the summer sale is successful, the British Guiana stamp will become the world's most expensive object by weight and size ever sold at auction.