Rare Postage Stamps

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Rare Postage Stamps are a part of the postal histories of postage systems the world over and often date back to over a hundred years or more.

The first stamp that comes to mind in the Rare Postage Stamps category is the "Treskilling" Yellow or the 3 skilling banco error of color. The stamp was issued in Sweden way back in 1855 and had a face value of 3 skillings. In the year 2004 it was the worlds most valuable stamp. A unique first for this stamp is that every time it has been sold it has set a new world record.

Two of the best know Rare Postage Stamps come from the United States of America: 1. The Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill: a 1-cent stamp issued way back in 1868, depicting Benjamin Franklin. The stamp has a specific pattern of very small squares embossed into the paper and visible only from behind, hence the name Z-Grill. There are currently only 2 known specimens, one of which is owned by the New York Public Library as part of the Benjamin Miller collection. There is only one single Z-Grill in the world for a stamp collector and hence it is thought to be one of the rarest and valuable US stamps. 2. The Inverted Jenny: this stamp issued in 1918 is also popularly known as the 'Jenny Invert'. It featured the image of an airplane, namely the Curtiss JN-4. The airplane was accidentally printed upside down in the stamp. Only 100 Jenny Inverts were ever found, making it one of the prized possessions for any stamp collector. An interesting point to note about the Jenny Invert is that a block of four Inverted Jenny's was sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction for a record US$2.7m in October 2005.

Another stamp that comes to mind in the Rare Postage Stamps category is The Inverted Head Four Annas. It was issued by India in the year 1854. The first issues pictured a Four Annas value in red and blue. However thanks to a mistake during production, the head was portrayed upside down. This rare postage stamp is now treasured by collectors the world over since the estimated stamps in existence are less than thirty in number.

Finally two Rare Postage Stamps that should be mentioned are the Gronchi Rosa from Italy, which was part of a 1961 issue and a rare Italian postage stamp design error and The Hawaiian Missionaries which happens to be the Kingdom of Hawaii's first postage stamp issued way back in 1851. Only a handful of both these stamps have survived and are amongst the great rarities of stamp collecting today.

- Mrs. Nagalakshmi Tadakaluri, Philatelist.

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