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‘World's most valuable stamp' goes on show in London ahead of auction

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, said to be the sole survivor of its kind, can be viewed at Sotheby's auction house in Mayfair.

The world’s most valuable stamp, estimated to be worth 15 million dollars (£10.7 million), is in London ahead of its auction in the summer.

The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp, said to be the sole survivor of its kind, can be viewed at Sotheby’s auction house in Mayfair from Wednesday.

It was created as a contingency in 1856 when a shortage of stamps usually imported from England threatened to disrupt the postal service in British Guiana (now Guyana).

British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp
The stamp is estimated to be worth up to 15 million dollars (Aaron Chown/PA)

Each of the four times it has sold at auction, the item has established a new record price for a single stamp, and is predicted to set a record at one billion times its face value.

The stamp is expected to fetch around 10 to 15 million dollars (£7.1 million to £10.7 million) at an auction at Sotheby’s, in New York on June 8.

Its current owner, high-end shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, who bought the stamp for 9.48 million dollars in 2014, added his own mark to the back of the stamp – inscribing his initials “SW” along with a line drawing of a stiletto shoe as a nod to his legacy in fashion.

British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp
Current owner Stuart Weitzman bought it for $9.48 million in 2014 (Aaron Chown/PA)

Following a shortage of regular postage stamps in the 1850s, British Guiana was able to commission a contingency supply, the one-cent black on magenta coloured paper, a four-cent magenta, and a four-cent blue.

The sole-surviving example of the one-cent magenta was rediscovered in 1873 when L Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old schoolboy living with his family in British Guiana, found it among a group of family papers.

He would later sell it for several shillings to another local collector.

British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp
The stamp was created in 1856 (Aaron Chown/PA)

The stamp then entered the UK in 1878, before being sold on by a number of collectors.

The stamp can be viewed by the public until April 30.

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