Top 10+ Rarest U.S Stamps of All Time

Top 10+ Rarest U.S Stamps of All Time

Rare U.S. stamps are historical artifacts, works of art, and even antiques, and collecting them is a passion. Even better, their financial value has the potential to change lives:

These little works of art are highly valued for a variety of reasons. Some might be firsts of their kind, while others might be errors in printing.

Prior to the introduction of adhesive postal stamps in the late 19th century, the United States Postal Service had been delivering letters without stamps. In the past, people would give the letter to the post office after sealing it. After locating the recipient, post office employees would tack on the correspondence fee. But the postal system evolved into what it is today with the perforation of postage stamps.

These tiny fragments of discolored paper honor historical figures and moments that altered history. A few examples of the variables that affect the value and demand of stamps are the date of issue, the image on the front, the country of origin, and errors or misprints, the most common of which are invert errors.

Philately (the study of postage stamps, postmarks, postcards, etc.) collectors are in high demand for postage stamps, despite the fact that people are writing fewer letters these days because electronic mail is taking center stage.

Typically, the value of a stamp is determined by four distinct elements:

• The image on the face.

• The perforations along the edge where it was attached to its sheet.

• The denomination or monetary value.

• The country of origin—usually featured on the face.

These components are typically where a stamp gets its name. For instance, the 2c George Washington coin has a picture of George Washington on it and is worth two US cents.

Errors are mistakes or misprints in one or more of these primary components that are present in the world’s most valuable stamps. A stamp error usually results from a mismatch in the printing plates during the pressing process. Errors are typically discovered and taken out of circulation fast, making the impacted stamp rarer and more valuable. You can find a lot of colorful errors that add whimsy and humor to the field of philately in the list below of some of the most valuable stamps in the world.

Estimated value: $200,000

Origin: 1867, United States

Face value: 15 US cents

The 1867 Abraham Lincoln stamp features an extremely rare “Z” grill that has distinctive horizontal ridges rather than vertical ones that were a standard feature in other grill types.

In light of the extreme rarity aspect of this stamp and its significance during the Civil War period, it is valued to be worth in the region of $200,000.

Estimated value: $900,000

Nature of rarity: Limited number – only four stamps exist

Origin: 1868, United States

Face value: 10 US cents

A normal 1868 George Washington postage stamp isn’t worth a lot of money. However, it’s worth millions of dollars if it has a B-grill mark (tiny upward-pointing dents.)

In fact, there are only four George Washington B-Grill stamps that currently exist. One of these stamps was sold for about $1 million in 2008.

Estimated value: $3,000,000

Nature of rarity: Limited number – only two stamps exist

Origin: February 1868, United States

Face value: 1 US cent

Being the first postmaster of the nation and the subject of the majority of US postage stamps, Benjamin Franklin has a special place in US postal history. The Benjamin Franklin Z Grill stamp is the most valuable one.

To stop stamp duplication, the US Postal Service employed a variety of grills, or embossed patterns. The Benjamin Franklin Z Grill postage stamp is unique since the Z grill was not commonly used.

There are just two of these stamps available; the other is sold at auction houses, and the first is kept indefinitely in the Miller Collection of the New York Public Library. A single Benjamin Franklin Z Grill stamp was exchanged for four $3 million Inverted Jenny stamps in 2005.

Estimated value: $625,000 – $1,200,000

Nature of rarity: Invert center

Origin: 1869, United States

Face value: 24 US cents

This magnificent 24-cent stamp honors the thirteen colonies’ July 4, 1776, declaration of independence from the British Crown. John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence is one of the things it includes painted on its face.

Used exclusively on this 1869 Issue, this two-color stamp features G-Grill vertical ridges that point downward. In 2008, this inverted printing error brought $1.2 million at Philip Weiss Auctions, while the block of four at the Robert A. Siegel auction brought $625,000. The stamp belongs to the 1869 Pictorial Issue, a set of US postage stamps featuring various images, such as delivery scenes on horseback and by steamship, as well as well-known paintings and vignettes of the Patriotic Eagle.

The Smithsonian states that the United States printed its first two-color stamps in 1869.

This 24-cent stamp with the famous image of the Declaration of Independence being signed by John Trumbull in the middle was one of the most well-liked from the 1869 National Bank Note Pictorial Issue.

Mystic Stamp describes the stamp’s center as “one of the finest examples of engraving, a miniature masterpiece.”

In May, one of these stamps went up for $152.50 on eBay after eight bids.

According to the Smithsonian, 235,350 of these stamps were produced by the National Bank Note Company.

Estimated value: $275,000

Origin: 1869, United States

Face value: 15 US cents

This stamp featured an unusual double-printed vignette with normal and inverted printing applied. It was a replica of the well-known painting by John Vanderlyn.

An inverted example of this stamp, which originally only cost fifteen cents, is predicted to bring at least $275,000 in an auction.

On July 1, 1847, these two US postage stamps went into circulation. The next day, the cover (below) was postmarked.

The Asher B. Durand engravings that were already in existence were used to print the essay vignettes of Franklin and Washington. On cardboard, the frames were sketched in pencil and ink. To add tone, a thin layer of India ink was then brushed on. Up to 300 miles, the Franklin stamp covered the cost of sending one half-ounce. For heavier or longer-distance mail, the George Washington stamp covered the appropriate cost.

Estimated value: $600,000

Nature of rarity: Limited number – only fifteen stamps exist

Origin: 1851, Kingdom of Hawaii

Face value: 2 US cents

According to Life magazine in 1963, this stamp “is the most valuable substance on earth, pound for pound.” The stamp was first issued in 1851, when Hawaii was a sovereign state and a well-liked stop for American missionaries bringing the gospel to the islands. But the postmaster of the Kingdom of Hawaii was an American, and there was good communication between the post offices in Honolulu and San Francisco. These stamps are highly prized by collectors due to their unusual numerals and rarity of survival.

It’s interesting to note that the 2-cent stamp was primarily used for newspapers and captain’s fees (ship captains were paid two cents for each letter they carried). Fans of Audrey Hepburn will recognize this stamp from her 1963 photo Charade with Cary Grant, but there’s a catch. There was no such thing as a 3-cent Missionary; there were only 2-cent, 5-cent, and 13-cent stamps. However, in that movie, a Hawaiian Missionary stamp plays a significant role in the mystery.

The first woman to appear on a U.S. postage stamp was Queen Isabella in 1893. The first American woman honored on stamp was Martha Washington in 1902.

The first Native American on a stamp was Pocahontas, 1907.

Estimated value: $310,500

Origin: 1869, United States

Face value: including ten items worth between 1 and 90 cents

The Shield, Eagle, and Flags stamp was part of the pictorial issue of 1869, which featured ten items ranging in value from one to ninety cents.

The rarest 1869 error stamp is thought to be the 30 cent worth Shield and Flag piece with inverted flags. The G grill is the focal point of the Shield and Flag design, which comes in split, double, and gum only varieties. A used example costs $65,000, while an unused sample with inverted flags is valued at $210,000. At the Robert A. Siegel auction in April 2016, an unused example of the 30¢ Shield, Eagle, and Flags from the 1869 pictorial series with the flags inverted brought in a record $310,500.

Estimated value: $1,593,000

Nature of rarity: Invert error

Origin: 1918, United States

Face value: 24 US cents

Perhaps a slim chance of obtaining this valuable and uncommon stamp. Only 100 were printed, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum is home to one of them.

These stamps, which have a face value of 24 cents and up to $2, are well-known due to the inadvertent printing of the picture’s biplane upside down. At least $100,000 is thought to be worth each one.

But since only one pane of all the Inverted Jennies has ever been found, the design has grown in value and is now worth up to $200,000 to philatelists.

Additionally, U.S. collector Bill Gross purchased a plate block of four Inverted Jenny stamps in October 2014 at a New York auction for $2.97 million. This broke the previous record for the highest price paid for an American stamp item at any time in history. The amount paid for the same block, which went for $1.1 million at auction in 1989, is nearly three times higher now.

Estimated value: $15,000

Nature of rarity: Limited number – only 100 stamps with invert error exist

Origin: 1979, United States

Face value: 1 US dollars

Produced between 1975 and 1981, the CIA invert one-dollar is part of the Americana series and has a postage error. There were only 100 stamps featuring a colonial rush lamp and a candle holder that were printed with this error.

It’s commonly believed that CIA agents discovered the error in 1986 and purchased a sheet of stamps that had 95 left on it in order to sell them. In the Cherrystone auction in 2021, a block of four pieces from this series brought $71,875 in sales. But the price tag for a single stamp is estimated to be about $15,000.

Estimated value: $1,000,000

Nature of rarity: 1847, United States

Origin: 1873, United States

Face value: 5 US cent

The color alone makes Blue Boy one of the rarest stamps. Of the seven stamps known to exist from the Postmaster’s Provisionals made in Alexandria, Virginia, this one was the only one printed on blue paper. Instead, the remaining ones were printed on buff-colored paper.

This unique stamp is still affixed to the original yellowish envelope that was sent, along with the note, “burn as usual,” at the conclusion of a letter between forbidden lovers. Fortunately, the envelope was preserved and sold to David Feldman in 1981 for $1,000,000.

Estimated value: $325,000

Nature of rarity: Limited number – only one stamp exists

Origin: 1873, United States

Face value: 24 US cent

One of the few remaining prints by Continental Film that features General Winfield Scott is called Continental. After years of trying, the experts were able to confirm through paper comparison that they had printed the stamps in the same manner as the National Banknote Company. At a Seigel Gallery auction in December 2004, this unique stamp brought $325,000. The National Banknote Company kept issuing the 24-cent series in the following years. This Continental is still regarded as a special version of the problem, though.

The most valuable United States postage stamps are those that are either extremely old or rare due to factors like printing errors or being among the first issues of a series. The United States postage stamps all depict either a well-known person, historical event, or unique symbol. Stamps printed in the United States provide a snapshot of life in the country at various points in time.

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