This one-cent stamp is 'The Mona Lisa of stamps' and worth $20 million

There is art in everything. Value in trash. Millions in the tiniest of things. Take this stamp. Known as the One-Cent Magenta from British Guiana, it's 158 years old, hasn't been seen in public since the mid 1980's and is considered to be the Mona Lisa of stamps. Oh and Sotheby's expects it to sell for $10 million to $20 million which would make it the most expensive stamp ever sold.

The One-Cent Magenta stamp was first printed in 1856 by a newspaper in British Guiana during "a stamp shortage" (those existed!) along with less valuable four-cent stamps (worth $50,000). The stamp has an image of a schooner (that's pretty much faded on the one cent version) and says in Latin, "We give and we take in return." Why's it so expensive? There's only one left.

The NY Times says:

Like the "Mona Lisa," it has its mysteries. Was it colorized later in life, like an MGM movie? And how did it get the unusual-looking star on the back? The shape and the pattern — and the purpose of the star — had puzzled Mr. Redden, who said he had spent hours studying it, hoping to discern something that others had missed. "Eventually," he said, "you have the feeling you could see the face of the Madonna in there, you've been looking at it so hard."

The testing of the stamp for its authenticity and the story of the journey it took is pretty fascinating. If you're into learning about things that should definitely not cost that much money, you can learn more about Mona Lisa's stamp version here.

This one-cent stamp is 'The Mona Lisa of stamps' and worth $20 million


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