Collecting stamps is a fascinating hobby. Stamps are, quite literally, pieces of US history. As time goes on, issued stamps become used up, thrown away, damaged, and so forth. Some become very rare and hard to find. Here is a list of the ten rarest United States stamps along with their estimated market values.
1) The 1908 Benjamin Franklin postage stamp. Original denomination, one cent. Unused, worth up to $100,000.
2) The 1851 Benjamin Franklin stamp. Original denomination, one cent. A used specimen is worth $5,000. Unused, it can range up to $150,000.
3) The George Washington stamp of 1867. Original denomination, three cents. There are no unused specimens of this stamp known to exist. Used, it still fetches $150,000 or more.
4) The 1867 Abraham Lincoln postage stamp. Issued just two years after President Lincoln’s assassination. Original issue denomination, fifteen cents. In used condition, it can be worth between $300 and $700 dollars. However, an unused specimen can be worth in excess of $200,000.
5) The Shield, Eagle and Flags stamp issued in 1869. Original issue denomination, thirty cents. In used condition, worth only about $500. In unused condition the price will vary with the condition but will range from about $3,000 up to in excess of $200,000.
6) The 1869 Landing of Columbus stamp. Original denomination, fifteen cents. A used one will be worth about $200. Unused, they can range up to $250,000.
7) The 1869 Signing of the Declaration of Independence stamp. Original denomination, twenty-four cents. One of these stamps in used condition would be valued at about $700. Unused, the value could range up to about $300,000.
8) In 1918, the United States Postal service accidentally issued the first ever first-class airmail stamp with an upside-down picture of a Curtiss JN-4 airplane on it. Original denomination, twenty-four cents. A single stamp of this kind was sold in 2007 for $825,000.
9) The Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp issued in 1868. Original denomination, one cent. The “Z-Grill” stamping is unique on this stamp. Grill stamping was done during this time period so the cancellation ink would better soak into the stamp and keep the stamps from being reused. This stamp is extremely rare. Only two are known to exist. Their value is estimated at about three million dollars each.
10) The Hawaiin Missionaries stamps issued in 1851. These were the first stamps issued in Hawaii by the United States Postal service and are among the rarest stamps in the world. There were three different denominations to these stamps, two, five, and thirteen cents. Their value depends a lot on their condition even though they are so very, very rare. They were printed on a paper stock that is very easily damaged so few perfect specimens are known to exist. Most have damage of some kind or are missing corners and/or edges. They have sold for $60,000 individually, up to in excess of one million dollars.
Any of these are an impressive addition to a stamp-collector’s collection. But remember that stamps don’t become rare and valuable unless someone collects them first. The stamps collected today could be the rare stamps of tomorrow.