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THE British Guiana


Birthdate:  1856

Denomination:   1 cent

Color:  Magenta

Size:  Approximately 1" x 1"

Weight:  Less than one ounce

Shape:  Square at birth - Octagonal today

Physical Description: Crudely printed, cut to shape, and heavily canceled. Considered one of the world's ugliest issues.

Background:   The stamp was found among old correspondence from British Guiana in 1873 by a 12 year old English schoolboy in Demerara named L. Vernon Vaughn. It was sold to a collector, N.R. McKinnon, for $1.50. McKinnon sold his entire collection to Wylie Hill of Glasgow, Scotland.

Collectors soon became aware of the stamp's rarity. Thomas Ridpath purchased it for $600. Count Phillipe von Ferrari, whose desire it was to own a copy of every stamp issue in the world, purchased it in the 1880's for about $750.

Following Ferrari's death the stamp was confiscated along with his entire collection by France and sold with proceeds being credited to German war reparations. It was brought to auction and, by this time, the rarity had captured the attention of collectors everywhere.

When the bidding ended at the Ferrari sale, the British Guiana went to Arthur Hind, a collector living in Utica, New York. He paid approximately $35,250, a world record price at the time. Hind retained possession of the stamp until his death. It was then purchased by R.H. Macy & Company, acting in behalf of Frederick T. Small, an Australian living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Selling price was approximately $40,000. Small remained anonymous until after the sale of the stamp to Irwin Weinberg of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on March 24, 1970. Weinberg and his associates purchased the rarity for $280,000 during the Robert A. Siegel Rarities of the World sale. Ten years later it was again auctioned at a Siegel Rarities sale. It was purchased anonymously for a record $935,000. A Siegel executive claims: 'The new owner is an American male living east of the Mississippi River."

Extraordinary Status:   There is ONLY ONE British Guiana one-cent magenta in existence!

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