A tiny piece of paper that a 19th-century human originally bought for one cent was purchased yesterday by a 21st-century human for $9.5 million. Called a "stamp," the red square would have been affixed to parcels sent through a system known as the "mail." A 12-year-old Scottish boy sold it in the 1870s for a few shillings so he could purchase other stamps, and this one eventually wound up in the hands of a multi-millionaire who later shot and killed an Olympic gold medalist.
The stamp, a One-Cent Magenta bearing Latin words that translate to “We give and expect in return," was printed by a local British Guiana newspaper in 1856 after a shipment of British stamps disappeared. It is unique, and yesterday it became the most valuable stamp on Planet Earth when an anonymous philatelist paid almost $10 million for it at a Sotheby's auction. Yesterday I complained about the high price of ice coffee at Brooklyn Roasting.
The One-Cent Magenta was last sold in 1980, when John E. du Pont, an heir to the du Pont chemical fortune, paid $935,000 for it. He later died in prison after murdering Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz, who had been training on his Pennsylvania estate. Those who knew du Pont say he became increasingly delusional in the years leading up to the murder—even more delusional than that one time he paid nearly $1 million for a stamp.