The world's rarest stamp is the British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta issued in 1856. Only a single copy is known to exist.
In 1852, British Guiana (now Guyana) began receiving regular postage stamps manufactured in England by Waterlow & Sons. But in 1856, an expected shipment of stamps did not arrive on time, which threatened a disruption of postal service throughout British Guiana.
The local postmaster, E.T.E. Dalton, secured the services of printers Joseph Baum and William Dallas, who were the publishers of the Official Gazette newspaper in Georgetown, to print an emergency issue of three stamps. The 1 cent magenta was intended for use on local newspapers. The other two stamps, the British Guiana 4 cent magenta and the British Guiana 4 cent blue, were for letter postage.
Postmaster Dalton provided some specifications about the design of the stamps, but the printer chose to add a ship image of their own design. Dalton was not pleased with the end result, and as a safeguard against forgery ordered that all correspondence bearing the stamps be autographed by a post office clerk. This particular stamp was initialed 'E.D.W.' by the clerk E.D. Wight.
The sole-surviving example of the one-cent magenta was first rediscovered not far from where it was first purchased. In 1873, L. Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old Scottish schoolboy living with his family in the Guyanese town of Demerara (whose postmark the stamp bears), found the rare stamp among his uncle's letters. There was no record of it in his stamp catalog, so he sold it some weeks later for six shillings to a local collector, N.R. McKinnon. Read the rest of this entry »
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The 13 cent John F Kennedy stamp in the Prominent Americans Series was first issued in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1967, on what would have been Kennedy's 50th birthday. The issue was designed by Stevan Dohanos, modeled after a photograph by Jacques Loew in the book The Kennedy Years. The 13-cent Kennedy stamp paid the rates for both foreign surface letters and air postcards.
Issue Date: May 29, 1967
City: Brookline, MA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
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The 13-cent John F. Kennedy aerogramme was issued May 29, 1967, with ceremonies a day earlier in conjunction with the Compex exhibition in Chicago. Except for the denomination, this stamp duplicates the design of the previous 11-cent aerogramme. Increases in international mail rates, which became effective May 1, 1967, prompted the new denomination.
The illustrated first day cover, postmarked in Chicago, bears an embossed design by Artcraft.
Photo credit: David K. Staub
With bright colors and a new stylized design, the U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of celebrating Kwanzaa. This annual non-religious holiday, which takes place over seven days from December 26 to January 1, brings family community, and culture together for many African Americans.
The stamp art features a man, woman, and child dressed in traditional, African-inspired clothing joined together in a unifying embrace. Their intertwined arms form a circle around seven candles, known as the mishumaa saba—a centerpiece of the Kwanzaa table. An open book symbolizes the holiday’s emphasis on knowledge and cultural history. The design is cast in the holiday’s primary colors of red, black, and green.
Created in 1966 by activist and scholar Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa draws on African traditions, deriving its name from the phrase “first fruits” in Swahili, a widely spoken African language. It has its origins in first harvest celebrations that occurred across the African continent in ancient and modern times. Karenga sought to synthesize and reinvent these tribal traditions as a contemporary celebration of African-American culture.
Artist R. Gregory Christie worked with art director Antonio Alcalá, who designed the stamp.
This is the fifth stamp design issued by the U.S. Postal Service in celebration of Kwanzaa. The first Kwanzaa commemorative stamp was issued in 1997. New designs were also issued in 2004, 2009, and 2011.
Kwanzaa is being issued as a Forever® stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.
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The Bahamas Postal Services has released a set of colorful marine-themed commemorative postage stamps to mark the 20th anniversary of The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF). Founded by the late Sir Nicholas Nuttall in 1993, BREEF is a non-profit foundation that addresses ongoing concerns on the changing conditions of the Bahamian marine environment. The stunning underwater images on the stamps were taken by BREEF, Stuart Cove Dive Bahamas, Sandy Voegeli, Grant Johnson, and Katie Grudecki.
Casuarina Lambert-McKinney, Executive Director at BREEF explains the vision and mission goals for BREEF. “Our vision for The Bahamas is one in which people appreciate the value of our seas and where all take responsibility and action to ensure a healthy marine environment for the future. BREEF recognises that a healthy sea supports our culture and economy, and makes The Bahamas a truly special place in the world. There is a tremendous diversity of life to be found on Bahamian coral reefs, seagrass beds, sand flats, mangrove creeks and in the open ocean. It is therefore essential for BREEF to advocate daily for the sustainable use of the marine environment through education, research and environmental policy.”
BREEF was involved last year in creating last year’s now popular, definitive marine life stamp issue and it is hoped that this new commemorative issue of 15, 50, 65 and 70 cent stamps will help create the need for further public awareness of the marine environment both in The Bahamas and abroad. Two of the new stamps feature the Nassau Grouper, a now endangered species that has experienced severe population decline throughout the region.
The oceans of The Bahamas constitute over 95% of Bahamian territory. BREEF recognizes that as a nation of islands the people of The Bahamas depend heavily on a healthy marine environment to support the life spans and breeding grounds, particularly of crawfish and conch and the many varieties of fish, such as Grouper, that underpin our fishing industry. In order to sustain livelihoods, BREEF advocates that we all learn productive use of the environment… without using it up.
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His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge has made his appearance on a new limited-edition commemorative stamp issued by Canada on October 22. The stamp features an informal photo of His Royal Highness Prince George with his mother and father, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The photo was taken by his grandfather, Michael Middleton, this summer. Prince George is the youngest Royal to make an appearance on a Canadian stamp.
“When His Royal Highness was born, people around the world celebrated. Canada joined the festivities with blue baby lights shining on the Peace Tower in Ottawa, the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls and the CN Tower in Toronto. This stamp proudly memorializes this moment in our history,” says the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport and responsible for Canada Post.
“Canadian stamps continue to document moments in time and this stamp is a fitting addition to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s family album of Canadian stamps,” says Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post. “We know that Canadians – as well as people across the world – will enjoy sharing this piece of royal history for the future king.”
In 2011, Canada Post issued two stamps featuring His and Her Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; one to commemorate the young couple’s engagement and the second to mark their wedding. Those stamps proved to be the most popular issues of that year. The couple's wedding was also featured on a third stamp to commemorate the first Royal Visit to Canada following their wedding.
Also, part of this new issue is a souvenir sheet and Official First Day Cover, showcasing an image of the Peace Tower in Ottawa awash with blue light as it was on the night of the Prince’s birth. The stamp and other collectibles ware available at post offices across Canada as well as online at canadapost.ca/shop.
The stamp measures 32 mm x 32 mm with simulated perforations. This Permanent™ stamp, which is always worth the going domestic rate, is printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using seven-colour lithography. The stamp is pressure sensitive and the Official First Day Cover will be cancelled in Prince George, British Columbia. The stamp is available in booklets of 10 stamps and souvenir sheets of two stamps.
This U.S stamp honors Leif Erikson, a Norse explorer regarded as the first European to mount an expedition to North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland in modern-day Canada.
Leif Erikson was probably born in Iceland around the 970-980. His father was Erik the Red, an explorer from Western Norway who grew up in Iceland. Erik the Red founded the first Norse colonies in Greenland, and was based at the family estate Brattahlíð in the so-called Eastern Settlement, where Leif had his upbringing.
In 999 A.D., Leif and his crew traveled from Greenland to Norway. In Norway he became a hirdman of King Olaf Tryggvason. He also converted to Christianity, and was given the mission of introducing the religion to Greenland.
After returning to Greenland, Leif heard the story of merchant Bjarni Herjólfsson who claimed to have sighted land to the west of Greenland after having been blown off course.
Around 1002 A.D., Leif assembled a crew of 35 men and sailed west from Greenland in search of the land sighted by Bjarni. They landed first in what they called Helluland ("flat rock land"). They traveled further south and reached Markland ("forest land"). Traveling farther south, they reached Vinland ("wine land").
Like the sagas, historical documents are not always trustworthy sources for events that happened in the past. Historical documents were written by people with different points of view and for different purposes. Such records are not always objective and may not even be truthful. In the case of Vinland the Good, there are very scant historic records supporting the saga accounts.
There are only two pieces of historical information about Vinland. Report of a land beyond Greenland where wild grapes and wheat grew was recorded by Adam of Bremen in A.D. 1075, based on information he received from Svein Ulfsson (also called Estridsson), king of Denmark, in A.D. 1068 or 1069. Knowledge of Vinland also appears in The Book of the Icelanders, the first written history of Iceland, compiled by Ari the Wise between A.D. 1122 and 1133. Ari also tells that Erik the Red had found human habitation remains in Greenland that indicated the presence of people similar to the skraelings met in Vinland.
These somewhat casual references to Vinland may indicate that its location was assumed to be public knowledge. Or, maybe the Europeans and Vikings did not consider the discovery of a new land as noteworthy as we would imagine.
Ever since modern translations of the sagas became available, historians, naturalists, navigators, astronomers, archaeologists and others have tried to identify the location of the saga lands from descriptions in the texts. Theories abound, ranging from Baffin Island to the Bahamas and even Brazil. The obvious arctic and subarctic locations of Helluland (flat rock land) and Markland (forest land) convinced scholars that Vinland (wine land) must have been located in the more temperate regions between Maine and Newfoundland where resources like grapes, salmon, grass, self-sown wheat, flatfish, and burl-wood (mosur) described in the sagas were available. While this general outline was agreed upon, historians are by no means in agreement on the particulars. In truth, new theories describing the history of the Vinland voyages continue to be published every few years.
October 9th is observed as Leif Erikson day in the United States.
Country of Issue: United States
Issue Date: October 9, 1968
City: Seattle, WA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
Color: Light gray, brown and black brown
With the recent announcement that a third copy of Canada's rarest stamp, the two cent large Queen on laid paper, it's worth a look to see what other rare Canadian stamps rank among the most valuable.
Maclean's, Canada's national weekly current affairs magazine, recently asked John Jamieson, owner of the Saskatoon Stamp Centre, for the seven most expensive Canadian stamps. His list is based on historical prices, and some of the stamps and covers were sold more recently than others, so the order of the list might vary. For example, some experts believe that the 2 cent Large Queen on Laid Paper, when sold this fall, may bring the highest price ever for a Canadian stamp.
At the very least, everyone will agree that these rare Canadian stamps deserve a spot on the list of most valuable Canadian stamps:
2. 2 cent Large Queen on Laid Paper
3. Mint block of 18 of the 2 cent Large Queen showing the entire watermark
4. 8 cent Registration sheet of 50
5. 1927 London to London Flight 25 cents, green and yellow
6. 1982 30 cent Christmas fold-over
7. St. Lawrence Seaway Invert
You can read the whole article here, including more information on when these rare Canadian stamps were sold and the prices they fetched.