Postage stamps are repositories of history. They give a unique perspective into the history of its period and place. Philately, the hobby of collecting stamps, is known as the 'Mother of Hobbies'. Either due to some errors or other specialties, some of the stamps have acquired super star status among their kind. These stamps are held in high regard by the collectors and are estimated to be worth millions. Here is a list of 10 of the most valuable and rarest postage stamps in history.

5. The Whole Country is Red

The Whole Country is Red

This Chinese stamp was issued in 1968, during the Cultural Revolution. With a face value of 8 fen, it was noted for its printing error. The stamp was conceived to represent the expansion of Communism in China. Designed by Wang Weisheng, it featured the map of China in red colour and the picture of a worker, a farmer and a soldier holding the copies of 'Selected Works of Chairman Mao' (Little Red Book). However, the map of Taiwan, which was controlled by China, was not red, but white. An editor from SinoMaps Press noticed the error by afternoon of the issue date and the stamps were immediately recalled, though a few went to the collectors. They are among the rarest postage stamps now.

4. Treskilling Yellow

Treskilling Yellow

The second place in the list of rarest postage stamps is occupied by a Swedish stamp named Treskilling Yellow, issued in 1855. This stamp once held the world record for the highest price for a single postage stamp in auction. It was sold in a 1996 auction for $2.3 million. In an auction in 2010, it was resold, though the exact price is not public knowledge. The stamp is the only one of its kind. Its fame comes from a printing error. The three-skilling stamps were printed in blue-green and eight-skilling ones were in yellow. By mistake, a number of three-skilling stamps were printed in yellow. The only known surviving one was discovered by a schoolboy and philatelist named Georg Wilhelm Baeckman in 1886, while going through his grandparents' attic.

3. The Hawaiian Missionaries

The Hawaiian Missionaries

Issued by the then Kingdom of Hawaii in 1851, these are amongst the rarest postage stamps in the world. The stamps were in three denominations; 2 cents, 5 cents and 13 cents. They went on to be known as 'Missionaries' because most of them were discovered on the correspondence between Missionaries working in Hawaii. All of the stamps were made on blue paper of cheap quality. The design consisted of the numeral of denomination in the center and the denomination in words at the bottom. The phrase 'Hawaiian / Postage' were inscribed on 2 and 5-cent stamps while 'H.I. & U.S / Postage' was printed on the 13-cent stamps. The 2-cent version is the rarest among the three, with only 15 of them existing.

2. British Guiana 1c Magenta

British Guiana 1c Magenta

A stamp that fetched $9.5 million in a 2014 auction the British Guiana 1c magenta is considered the most valuable and rarest stamp in the world. Only one of its type exists now, which is used and cut in the shape of an octagon. The stamp was issued in limited numbers in 1856 by former British Guiana. It features a sailing ship along with the colony's motto 'Damus Petimus Que Vicissim' (We give and expect in return). It was discovered in 1873 by a Scottish schoolboy named Louis Vernon Vaughan among his uncle's letters. The stamp has been mentioned in various films as a prized object.

1. Tyrian Plum

Tyrian Plum

The Edward VII Tyrian Plum is one of the rarest postage stamps from Britain. It was issued in 1910 to replacement the existing two-colour two-pence stamp bearing the profile of King Edward VII. The new stamp, with face value of two pence, also featured the king. In total, 24 million stamps were printed but following the unexpected demise of the king in May that year, almost all of the stamps were destroyed. A few stamps exist though their actual number is not known. The only known used stamp is in the Royal Philatelic Collection.


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