What stamp collector hasn’t dreamt of coming across an extremely rare stamp by chance? While stamps like the Inverted Jenny have been sought after by stamp collectors since their issue, that isn’t the case of the five stamps we’ll tell you about here. On the contrary, these rare stamps were found completely by chance. The people who found them were often not the ones who benefited most from them. However, thanks to them, these legendary stamps and letters can still make us dream today.

The Bordeaux letters

These two letters with Mauritius “Post Office” stamps are among the very few letters with those stamps. They were discovered by a school boy among the correspondence of wine merchants Ducau & Lurguie in Bordeaux. The first letter, the most famous of the two, has two Mauritius stamps and the second one, just one of the two stamps, the blue two-pence. The first letter was sold by Maison David Feldman in 1993 for 6,123,750 Swiss francs.

The schoolboy had sold it to Th. Lemaire in 1903 for £1,600, probably feeling that he had done an excellent deal!

The Audrey Hepburn stamp

Sean Ferrer, Audrey Hepburn’s son, refused to allow the stamp to be issued because the photo had been altered without his approval. Instead of a pair of sunglasses, beautiful Audrey had a cigarette holder between her teeth. Fourteen million stamps had to be destroyed as a result. However, so far, five of the stamps have been found.

The first one was found by a German postman and stamp-collector. He would buy envelopes from a company for the stamps. He was very surprised when he discovered one of the famous Audrey Hepburn stamps. He sold it via the Felzmann auction house for €58,000!

The One-Cent Magenta

In fact, even the most expensive stamp in the world passed through the hands a young boy. He found it in his attic in 1873 on a letter from 1856. The stamp was damaged: the corners were cut and it was further damaged when the boy removed it from the envelope. He sold it for just 6 shillings to a collector named McKinnon in 1873. The Scottish collector returned to Glasgow with his stamp collection, including the one-cent magenta.

The stamp changed hands several times, gaining in value each time. After reaching a record price of $9.48 million in 2014, it was then sold for $8.3 million in 2021.

The Blue Boy

The Blue Boy is a very rare stamp issued in 1847 by the Alexandria post office in Virginia in the United States. Only one example is known.

It was found on a letter mailed on 24 November 1847 by James Wallace Hoof to his fiancée. The couple was living a forbidden love affair and he asked her to burn the letter after reading it. Janette, his fiancée, hid the letter in her sewing box. It was found much later by her daughter, who felt she did a good deal when she sold it for $3,000 in 1908. In 1981, the Blue Boy and the envelope were sold for a million dollars by the David Feldman auction house.

The Swedish Treskilling

This is another of the rarest stamps in the world. The Swedish Treskilling was issued in 1855. It’s special because of its colour: yellow instead of green. It was found on a letter posted on 13 July 1857.

The Treskilling Yellow was discovered by a young, 14-year-old German collector who was looking through old letters in his grandmother’s attic. He sold it to a local stamp seller for seven crowns.

It was sold for 2,875,000 Swiss francs by Maison David Feldman in 1996. It apparently changed hands again in 2010, but the amount of the transaction is not known.


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Written by Héloïse

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One comment

  1. What a great set of stories, but unfortunately, the original finder of each of these stamps only made a pitance compared to the Auction Houses who resold to the highest bidder. The moral seems to be that one has to go to an Auction House and pay their huge commisions in order to obtain an amount anywhere near to the actual value. Don’t use you trusted friend. He will give you a larger amount than you ever believed it was worth but would then sellon for a fortune!
    Unfortunately I have never ever found a stamp even approaching the values paid for those incredible treasures. Maybe, one day ……..