New York: The world’s most famous stamp, a once cent British Guiana, fetched a record price of USD 9.5 million, nearly a billion times its original face value at a Sotheby’s auction here.

The one cent black on magenta coloured stamp set a new world auction record for any stamp, the fourth time in its history, when it was sold for USD 9,480,000 yesterday night, auctioneers said in a statement.

Being the sole-surviving example of the British Guiana, the unique yet unassuming penny issue from 1856 is the rarest in the world and has been heralded as the pinnacle of stamp collecting for more than a century.

Rediscovered by a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America in 1873, the stamp passed through some of the most important stamp collections ever assembled.

Untill Sotheby’s international exhibitions this spring in Hong Kong, London and New York, the British Guiana had been out of public view since the 1986.

An anonymous bidder placed the winning bid over telephone, auctioneers said.

“We are thrilled with extraordinary, record-setting price of USD 9.5 million – a truly great moment for the world of stamp collecting. That price will be hard to beat, and likely won’t be exceeded unless the British Guiana comes up for sale again in the future,” David Redden, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman said.

Redden said, “I’m a little sad to see it go – when I was eight years old this was the most precious object in the entire world, and I never dreamed I would have it in my hands.”

In 1922 Arthur Hind from Utica New York purchased the stamp at an auction for then-record price of USD 35,000. In 1970 the Irwin Weinberg stamp consortium purchased it at the auction for for then-record price of USD 280,000. It was followed by an auction in 1980 when John E Du Pont from Pennsylvania bought it for then-record price of USD 935,000.

The previous auction record for a single stamp was approximately USD 2.2 million, set by the Treskilling Yellow in 1996.

Auctioneers said the previous auction record for any philatelic item was approximately USD 4 million, set by The Bordeaux Cover in 1993 – the cover including both of the Mauritius “Post Office” stamps.

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