The Gold and Silver Mine
A weekly column dedicated to “digging out” current information about precious metals, coins and other numismatics.
Last weeks’ article about auctions and the fact they don’t always meet expectations was timely, given that the results of the auction for the rarest stamp are now in.
If you recall, I wrote about this stamp, the One Penny stamp from the South American country of British Guiana several months ago. It is the only stamp known of this design, has long held the title of the rarest stamp and has been the object of desire for many a stamp collector. This stamp, with much fanfare, was put up for auction as part of the estate of its last owner and heir of the du Pont fortune, John E. du Pont who died in jail after being convicted of murder. See, money doesn’t guarantee happiness.
Anyhow, the auction house handling the sale placed a pre auction estimate of $10 million to $20 million price. Quite a range don’t you think? Well, as I stated in my previous article, estimates don’t always become reality as the final price was $9.5 million including buyers premium. That means the buyer probably had to cough up an additional $.5 million for the auction house. Not bad for a days work.
Don’t get me wrong, $9.5 million for a small piece of paper is a respectable price for this stamp. And it is a new record price paid for a stamp. It just highlights what I said about auctions not always living up to their hype.
By weight, this is the rarest of all collectibles. But for value, that is price paid, art and other items exceed that number. As for coins, the rarest to sell in auction recently was an 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar which brought slightly over $10 million. Plus there are other coins in private collections whose owners have turned down higher offers, or if those coins are ever brought to auction they would bring higher prices than the $10 million.
This brings me back to my opinion last week that while auction houses have their place in the market, they don’t always offer the best alternative to disposing of collectibles. For the very rare and truly unique items they definitely are the way to go as the auction houses exposure to the marketplace and their advertising budget allow them to reach a broad audience. But even with that, as the auction for the worlds rarest stamp shows, they don’t always deliver on expectations.
Douglas Keefe is the president of Beachcomber Coins, Inc. He and his wife Linda operate Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles formerly in the Shore Mall, now located at 6692 Black Horse Pike in the old WaWa building just past the former Cardiff Circle. The also have satellite offices in both Brigantine and Absecon. Between them they have over 70 years experience in the coin and precious metals business. They are members of The American Numismatic Association, The Industry Council of Tangible Assets, The Numismatic Guarantee Corporation, The Certified Coin Exchange and the Professional Coin Grading Service.