Rare postage stamps
Top rarest & most valuable stamps in the world & their respective values
“What are the rarest stamps in the world?” This is one of the most frequently-asked questions by both budding stamp collectors and those in possession of inherited albums or stacks of stamps.
We list 23 of the rarest and most valuable of all stamps ever printed. In postage stamp collecting, rarity significantly increases the value of old stamps.
One Penny Black - the first stamp in the world
What better way to start than by paying homage to the first stamp in the world, the One Penny Black stamp. First issued in 1840 by the British, the One Penny Black features the bust of England’s Queen Victoria.
Early printing of these old postage stamps were attached and had to be cut with scissors. Today, unused Penny Black stamps are very rare to find. You are in luck if you find one as stamp collectors aspire to have this vintage stamp in their rare stamp collection.
The current market value of an unused One Penny Black stamp is around $3, 000 US Dollars.
List of the top rarest stamps:
Some but not all of the old rare stamps are commonly error stamps. These are the famous and very rare stamps of the world today.
1.) The Two Penny Blue Stamps (1840)
These postage stamps lacked the country's name. One of the earliest stamps made in Britain.
These rare British stamps, also know as the Blue Penny postal stamps, were sold for nearly $4 million in 1993.
2.) The 'Mauritius Post Office Error' Stamps (1847)
These stamps had the words "Post Office" instead of "Post Paid."
Another error postage stamp, these rare stamps were originally issued in one penny and two penny definitive stamps.
The mistake on the Mauritius error stamps was accidentally printed by a jittery designer when the governor’s wife rushed him to make these postage stamps to be used on the inaugural ball invitations.
3.) Hawaii Missionary Stamps (1851)
These are on the top ranks of the most expensive stamps in the world.
A mint rare stamp or an unused set or of eight of the Hawaiian Missionary stamps has a rare stamp price costing up to $100,000.
The rare Missionary stamps were the first and oldest stamps in Hawaii.
They were used by the American missionaries who came to the islands in the 19th century.
4.) British Guiana 1-cent Magenta Stamp (1856)
Alleged to be the world's rarest and most valuable stamps, these stamps were sold at an auction in 1970 for $280,000.
At present, this rare stamp value is estimated over a million dollars. There is only one specimen left for this most expensive ever.
Several counterfeit stamps of the British Guyana stamps resurfaced through the years.
5.) The New Brunswick stamp "Connell's Folly” stamps (1859)
Postmaster General Charles Connell used his own portrait on the 5 cent stamp, the value most commonly used in the Canadian colony.
However, the public denounced Connell for his subtle political propaganda.
This folly made this rare Canadian stamp controversial.
6.) The Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador "Seebeck Reprints" stamps (1889-1899)
Nicholas F. Seebeck, a representative of the Hamilton Banknote Company in New York, contracted to print stamps for these nations at no charge, provided all unsold stamps were invalidated and returned to him.
He sold these rare collectible stamps and other postage stamps reprinted from the original plates to collectors at a fraction of their face value.
7.) The China "Special Delivery” Issue stamp (1913-1914)
It is the world's largest stamp, printed in strips with five different designs.
This exclusive collectible and rare Chinese stamp measures 247mm by 65mm.
8.) The U.S. "Inverted Airmail" postage stamp (1918)
Today, an Inverted Airmail has a rare postage stamp value at about $42,500. The face value of this highly valuable stamp is 24 cents.
This rare postal stamp is also known as the inverted Jenny stamp, as the design on the vignette is a Curtiss JN-4 airplane that was accidentally printed upside-down.
9.) The U.S. "Dag Hammarskjold Error” stamps (1962)
Two collectors, one in New Jersey and one in Ohio, each bought a sheet of this commemorative, which had the yellow background inverted.
On discovering the existence of the error, the Post Office Dept. reissued the stamp with the error and eliminated the premium value of the original sheets.
These rare postage stamps are also called the Day’s Follies after Postmaster Edward Day.
10.) The U.S. "Farley's Follies" stamps (1935)
Postmaster General James A. Farley favored selected friends and VIPs, especially President Franklin D. Roosevelt, by giving them ungummed and unperforated sheets of certain commemorative stamps.
After strong and continued protests from American rare stamp collectors, the government was forced to reissue the postage stamps in an ungummed and imperforated form, and make them available to the general public.
11.) Treskilling Yellow stamp (1855)
This is perhaps the most expensive stamp in the world as of the year 1996. Its rare stamp value is estimated around $2.5 million Swiss Francs.
The regular issues of the three skilling (triskilling) definitive stamps are colored green. However, this very rare treskilling stamp was mistakenly printed in yellow.
There is only one specimen of the treskilling error postage stamp which a schoolboy accidentally found in old attic.
12.) Perot Provisional stamps (1848)
These exclusive rare postage stamps were known to be the first stamps of Bermuda. With rare postage stamp price of a stunning $ 105, 000, it only had a face value worth 1 penny.
Today, only 11 copies of the rare Perot stamps exist including the one owned by Queen Elizabeth.
13.) Red Mercury Stamp (1856)
This is the rarest Austrian newspaper stamp and it was created as postage on newspapers.
The Mercury stamps depicted the image of the Roman god, and were printed in blue, yellow, and red.
The Red Mercury stamps were printed in 1856 but were replaced too soon in 1858. Few copies of very rare stamps have a rare stamp value of $ 40, 000.
14.) Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp (1868)
This famous rare, unique stamp has tiny squares embossed onto the back of the stamp to absorb the ink.
This is to prevent the cancellation marks from washing out and thus making the postage stamps protected from counterfeiting.
The Z Grill stamps are in the list of the rarest American stamps for there are only two surviving copies. Its rare stamp value is around $2.97 million.
15.) Woodblock stamps (1861)
The rarest error in Cape of Good Hope stamps was printed in blue. Rare blue Woodblock stamp was printed by Perkins, Bacon & Co. The design of this rare Cape of Good Hope stamp is a lone female figure sitting on an anchor.
Two known specimens of famous error Woodblock stamp designs exist. These rare valuable stamps are 4 Penny stamp printed in vermillion, and the 1 penny stamp printed in blue.
16.) Inverted Swan stamp (1855)
Came to be known as one of the world's first frame invert error stamps, this rare Australian stamp has an upside-down swan design.
The Black Swan is the symbol for the Australian continent.There was about 388 error Australian Black Swan stamps.
Today, only 15 mint rare postage stamps survived. Its rare stamp price is estimated around US$ 60, 000.
17.) Basel Dove stamp (1845)
Issued in the Canton of Basel in Switzerland, the world's first tri-color stamp has an approximate rare stamp value of CHF 18, 000.
The extremely rare Basel Dove was designed by Melchoir Berry. But the blue-crimson-black color scheme of the Basel Dove stamp was not well accepted by the public so it was later on withdrawn.
These rare Swiss stamps are one of the most beautiful classical stamps.
18.) Cottonreel stamps (1850)
The first British Guiana stamps were locally produced until the official postage stamps arrived from London in the year 1852.
These rare and famous stamps, also known as the Cottonreels, resembled the circular labels on cotton spools.
A single British Guiana Cottonreel stamp has a rare stamp worth of 4, 000 - 20, 000 pounds sterling depending on the condition.
19.) Scinde Dawk stamp (1852)
The Dawk, or Dak, is an old postal service in Asia that is carried by runners. The Dak postage rate was based on the weight and distance the parcel was to be delivered.
Sir Bartle Frefre of the East India Company created a postal system that has a flat rate for all distances, and he employed a stamp embossed with seal wax.
These rare British stamps carry the Merchant’s Mark of East India Company. India’s first prepaid postage stamps are available for £1,000.00 a piece.
20.) Inverted Head Four Annas stamp (1854)
This famous Indian stamp is actually a highly valuable error stamp created using a blue and white dye.
This rare multicolored Indian stamp was printed with an upside-down effigy.
21.) Uganda Cowries stamps (1895)
These first Ugandan stamps were also known by the name of Uganda Missionaries.
Since there were no printing presses in Uganda at that time, the first stamps of Uganda were produced on a typewriter.
These high value stamps have an estimated philatelic value of £2,000.00 per pair.
22.) Bluenose stamp (1929)
Regarded as the most beautiful and rare Canadian stamp, it was printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company to depict the Bluenose, a schooner (racing ship) from Nova Scotia.
This most favorite classic Canadian stamp has an estimated rare postal stamps value around CAN $700.
23.) Gronchi Rosa stamps (1961)
With a rare stamp value pegged at £890 Euros, the famous Italian stamp misprint was known to philatelists as the Gronchi Rosa stamps.
This extremely rare Italian postage stamp design error was issued for the voyage of President Giovanno Gronchi to three South American nations.
The 205 liras rosa stamp was meant for the Peru stopover but the artist made a mistake when he drew the Peru-Ecuador boundaries.
These rare Italian stamps were quickly replaced with the correct issues.