Stamps Are Art

Protection, Preservation, and Care

British Guiana Magenta

An Open Letter to the New Owner of the British Guiana Magenta Stamp

Now that the Sotheby's auction is over and the British Guiana philatelic treasure has found a new home, I have some personal philatelic observations and thoughts. During it’s world tour, I wonder how many people had the chance to view the British Guiana 1 cent Magenta stamp, only to be left with the same lingering questions that it left me with. How in the world did the Guiana achieve its philatelic status as most expensive piece of  stamp art, and yet look as mistreated as it does? Is it just me, or does the stamp look faded, written on, ink stained, and generally ready to disintegrate at the next slightest bit mistreatment (as evidenced by the image below). The stamp has been held by many world class stamp collectors, and yet appears to have been given the care one would expect from an amateur. Yes, I know that it was known to be in bad condition from its first discovery, but how much more damage has been inflicted by its subsequent owners, via their storage in wallets, pockets, briefcase, and under pillows? The stamp’s condition oozes mistreatment and lack of preservation and care.  What  have all its owners been thinking?  Their signatures and other  markings have been left on this stamp like a dog marking its territory. Perhaps this is because the stamp is thought of by those who belong to the .1% only as a status symbol and not as a privilege that comes along with an obligation to preserve this rarity for future generations. The stamps fragility can be attested to by the fact that the National Postal Museum declined to dip it in benzene stamp fluid during its analysis/expertization process. As far as I can tell, the stamp museum also did not try to expose the stamp to UV expertization light, choosing to use the VSC6000, Leica Microscope, X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF) and the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscope (FT-IR) instead. If so, kudo’s, as both dipping fluid and UV light have been discussed by me as  DO NOT USE WITH stamps. Further to it's condition, the stamps history is replete with its display at multiple philatelic exhibitions, each associated with their own exposure of the stamp to photons - lux - lumen and their cumulative irreversible contribution to the fading of the stamp. If the amount of light in the display case at Sotheby's is representative of the amount of light the stamp has been displayed under during its numerous stamp exhibitions, world tours, and auctions, the British Guiana has not much life left before it fades away before it's new owners eyes.  Aside from its previous public displays, I can only imagine how much further light exposure each of the previous owners exposed the stamp to during their personal and private viewing pleasures, all which have and will cumulatively lead to its eventual demise.  So, I end this post with a plea to the owner, take care of your little stamp treasure a little bit more than the trivial amount the 10 million dollars you paid for it must represent to you.  The more care you afford your new stamp art, the more status you will gain – at least on StampsAreArt.com, and who knows, if the stamp survives, by philatelia and the future generations that will give you the credit you will deserve for saving your piece of philatelic enjoyment for them to enjoy. And, one final request, try not to sleep with your stamp.  ;-)


Watch Video of World Record Price for British Guiana 1 cent Magenta Stamp at Sotheby’s

Watch a video of the final hammer come down for the British Guiana 1cent Magenta stamp at the Sotheby's auction in Manhattan on 17 June 2014.  Although the stamp broke the world record for the most expensive stamp ever sold, in view of the pre-auction estimates, the results were a little bit disappointing IMHO.  In any case, I think it will be along time before we will see a single stamp sell for this price, unless the media starts reporting how the real inflation rate is being hidden by the monkeys in the Fed and the Bureau of Statistics to keep people from panicking - remember the late 70's. If you would like to repost the videos below, please :-) do so by linking to this web page rather than the videos themselves. The video below includes the start and end of actual bidding.   The video below includes pre-bidding activities.  


Most Valuable Art? 1c British Guiana or Cezanne’s “The Card Players”

If you are on the fence as to what your next art acquisition should be - sit no more! In a world where gold and diamonds are valued by weight, how does rare stamp art stand up to run of the mill ordinary rare art.   Consider Paul Cezanne's "The Card Players", which is estimated to have been sold for upwards of 250 million dollars, whereas the British Guiana 1 cent Magenta stamp  is estimated to gavel in at over 10 million dollars at the auction at Sotheby's on June 17.    How is that possible that this stamp art rarity can be worth more than the most expensive Cezanne?  Well, the approximately 1 sq meter of canvas that "The Card Players" was created on very conservatively weighs no less than 200 grams, whereas the British Guiana 1c Magenta Stamp very conservatively weighs no more than 1 gram.  In other words, the one of a kind stamp rarity  weighs 200 time less than the one of a kind art rarity. Assuming the 1c Magenta stamp sells for 10 million dollars, when the weight value of each is compared, the 1c British Guiana wins and crushes not only the Cezanne, but as well as all other items that have ever been sold at auction by a factor of over 200 times!  In other words, were you to value your purchase the Magenta 1c stamp art and Cezanne art based on price per pound/gm, you should make sure your check book had more than 2 billion dollars (as pronounced by Dr. Evil in Austin Powers) :lol: . All this makes me wonder, is the rare philatelic stamp art market about to explode in value? Update 30 May 2104, just learned about this stamp article at glenstephens.com which values the 1c magenta at $US600 billion per kilo.  At $10 million dollars, the British Guiana stamp art is really starting to look like a bargain  !!!!!  


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