The One Cent British Guiana

Those of us who came of philatelic age in the post WWII era always dreamed of owning the one cent Magenta British Guiana #13. It had panache. The rarest stamp in the great Ferrary collection that was sold in Paris after WWI to help pay for Germany’s war reparations, the stamp had the highest realization of any stamp in that auction. It ended up in the collection of an American, Arthur Hind. The stamp had been purchased at the Ferrary auction in 1922 for $30,000 which was ten time the price another unique stamp realized-the error of color of Sweden #1. The stamp was sold in 1980 to John E DuPont, heir to the chemical fortune and here the story of the stamp changes from interesting to macabre. DuPont was not only a prominent stamp collector, he was a gun nut and paramilitary wannabe. He would tool around his Pennsylvania estate in a modified tank and flak jacket, often with the rarest stamp in the world in his pocket. He also had homoerotic attachments for young male wrestlers who he would have live on his estate. In 1996 he murdered one of them. Last month, John DuPont died while in prison. Don’t expect to see the British Guiana One cent Magenta up for sale anytime soon. The state of Pennsylvania is making a claim for the stamp to help pay for DuPont’s incarceration. The family of the slain wrestler has a claim and DuPont family (he had no direct heirs) also have a claim. Because of DuPont’s wealth it seems likely that this case will twist in the courts forever, like a Jarndyce v Jarndyce only ending with the death of the litigants or the estate running out of money. It looks like the space in our album for British Guiana #13 will remain empty for years.

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