Instead of making money, errors usually would incur loss of some kind.
But that is not always true in the un-usual world of stamp collecting.
Take for instance the Treskilling Yellow Stamp of Sweden
An error on this Swedish stamp has made it worth millions.
A Monumental Find
Sweden issued its first stamps in 1855. The five sets of these first postage stamps carried the coat of arms of Sweden with values ranging from 3 to 24 skillings. The 3-skilling stamp was printed in blue-green color and the 8-skilling stamp was printed in yellowish-orange color.
Then an error occurred that was to make history in the philatelic history.
At the time of printing more stamps, 3-skilling stamps which were normally printed in blue-green were mistakenly printed in yellow-green.
Nobody knows for certain how or when this error occurred. In fact the error was not detected until 1886 when a school-boy Georg Wilhelm Backman in Sweden was going through old correspondence in his grandfather’s attic. What caught the young collector’s eye was an envelope with an odd-looking 3-skilling stamp. Instead of green, this stamp was yellow in color.
Beckman may not have realized the monumental discovery that he had made but it seems certain that he understood that this was something to be preserved in his collection. His discovery paid him dividends when he was able to sell the stamp to Stockholm stamp dealer Heinrich Lichtenstein for 7 kronor that would be about 50 U.S. cents at the time.
From Cents To Millions
The stamp that first sold for less than a dollar changed hands several times increasing in value with each sale. But it came into its own when in 1894 Philipp von Ferrary paid a then whopping sum of 4,000 gulden(at that time about $3,000) .
Ferrary was a rich and avid stamp collector and his collection was reputed to be the largest in the world at that time. When a stamp collector of Philipp von Ferrary’s stature paid such a big amount for the stamp there was a mad rush to find other such stamps in forgotten attics and shoeboxes.
But till now no other copy has been discovered and Beckman’s original find is considered the only existing example which has come to be called Treskilling Yellow, or 3 skilling banco error of color.
The stamp remained with Philipp von Ferrary until 1920s when his collection was auctioned. From then the stamp has changed hands spiraling in value with each sale:
- A stamp collector bought it in 1926 for £1,500 to complete his collection of Sweden
- In 1928, the stamp was sold to a buyer for £2,000 where it remained for nine years.
- In 1937, King Carol II of Romania got it from London auction house H. R. Harmer for £5,000
- In 1950 it was sold for an unknown sum
- In 1984 the stamp made headlines when it was sold for 977,500 Swiss francs
- A 1990 sale realized over one million US dollars
- In 1996 it sold again for 2,500,000 Swiss francs.
- On 22 May 2010, the stamp was auctioned once again in Geneva, Switzerland. It sold for a record price though the exact amount was not revealed. The name of the buyer was also not disclosed.
The Treskilling Yellow has gone from strength to strength since it was discovered in 1886. It has maintained the record of being the priciest stamp in the world fetching higher prices with each sale.
Is it any wonder that this rare stamp has been called the “Mona Lisa of the philatelic world”?
Though the Treskilling Yellow may not look as beautiful, this piece of paper certainly is as alluring as the immortal creation of Leonardo da Vinci.
Treskilling Yellow - the stamp with a golden touch
Wikipedia :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treskilling_yellow (accessed on 24 May 2012)
Treskilling Yellow Stamp Image Credit:
By sv:P.A. Sparre (1828-1921) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons