What a Museum does when the appearance of the world’s most expensive stamp changes.

British Guiana One cent Magenta Stamp

One of the benefits of a virtual museum is the ability, or more precisely agility to adapt to change and make revisions at a click of a button in seconds, thus ensuring the most up-to-date records are on display. Given the social media age we live in these days it has never been more important. With this in mind, it no doubt won’t have escaped anyone’s notice in the world of philately that the current world’s most expensive stamp, the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, is being auctioned on 8th June 2021. Now under normal circumstances that wouldn’t mean we at the Museum of Philately would need to do anything to the stamp entry until after a sale when we would update the price achieved and ownership details. However, something came to light at the announcement of this exciting philatelic news which alters the appearance of the stamp to the degree that it was important, if not informative, to revise the record, even before the auctioneers have opened the bidding. And it’s not the front of the stamp but the back that has changed quite noticeably with the addition of a stiletto shoe outline and the initials “SW” penciled upon the reverse. As you probably know the current owner is Stuart Weitzman, a shoe designer to Hollywood stars such as Talyor Swift and Beyoncé, which explains his distinctive scribble. Mr Weitzman also owns the 1918 24c Unique Plate Block of Inverted Jenny’s, which is also being auctioned on the same day.  Whilst the shoe has caused quite a stir, the reality is this isn’t anything unusual, because the shoe designer is just following in the footsteps of seven others before him who have done the same over the last 125 years. Admittedly the stiletto is quite a bold mark of ownership and in some quarters is considered to be a fashion statement, but in others a piece of artifact vandalism.

Well, regardless of which camp you are in, from an aesthetic perspective we could see that the back of the stamp had undergone an alteration and a historical one  – or as some have suggested been dressed in a shoe – so we replaced the reverse scan with the latest one published by Sotheby’s the auction firm who will be looking for a price somewhere in the region of $10 to $15m. Now having updated our records we thought this was an ideal opportunity to point out who else has left their mark on this famous stamp. So here is a guide to the owner’s marks on this the world’s current most expensive stamp.  Starting with the topical, from the current owner to the first owner who was Count Ferrary. And note we have indicated who used pencil and who used the more abrasive ink. The latter is undoubtedly more intrusive to the stamp than the former, for obvious reasons.


  1. Stuart Weitzman – outline of a Stiletto Shoes with “SW” initials – pencil
  2. John Eleuthère du Pont – J.E.d.P initials – pencil
  3. Irwin Weinberg & Associates (who took it on a world tour) – “IW” initials – pencil
  4. Frederick T. Small – Comet – ink stamp
  5. Finbar Kenny (Macy’s stamps who brokered the sale to F. Small) – “FK” – pencil
  6. Ann Hind (over the top of her husband’s mark) Seventeen point star – ink stamp*
  7. Arthur Hind – Four-leaf clover (under wife’s) – ink stamp**
  8. Count Ferrary – Circled  (two marks one faint) – ink stamp


If you’re wondering why Mrs Hind deliberately put her star over her husband’s four leaf clover, the story goes that it is because when Arthur Hind died he expressidely wrote Mrs Hind out of the stamp collection and crucially the proceeds which would come from the sale of the One-Cent Magenta. However, she contested the Will, and eventually won the case. When she had the stamp back in her possession, and before selling, she made a point of attempting to rid the reverse of his mark. Who said the back of a stamp was boring? The reverse of this one is fast becoming more interesting than the front. And finally, if the stamp in question sells to a rich Hollywood designer of handbags, we might, in time, get a bag to go with our shoe. Then we could really say with some confidence that stamps are fashionable.


*According to the auction catalogue produced by Sotheby’s in 2014 and also the Smithsonian Museum article dated June 4, 2015. They had the stamp on loan from Stuart Weitzman during 2015.

**There is a suggestion that this piece of stamp folklore isn’t actually true, and Arthur Hind didn’t have an ink four leaf clover, and the seventeen point star isn’t Ann Hind’s. However the same mark/s appear on the famous Miss Ross Cover which is a British Guiana 1851 Cottonreel 2 cents entire also held in the collection of Arthur  Hind.