STAMP AND COIN GALLERIES©
16060 Ventura Blvd, PMB 110A, Encino, CA 91436
Phones: 818.905.1111 or 818.515.1222 Fax: 818.905.1114
By appointment only, please.
Emails: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
This website address: http://www.americanastampcoin.com
THE WORLD'S MOST VALUABLE STAMP
SOLD AT SOTHEBY'S FOR $9.5 MILLION!
by Jay Tell ©
The World's Most Valuable Stamp, the unique British Guiana 1¢ magenta, 'the Holy Grail' or 'the Mona Lisa of Philately,' was sold at public auction on June 17, 2014 by Sotheby's (established in 1744) in New York - after viewings in London and Hong Kong - and achieved a new single stamp world-record price of $9.5 million dollars - shattering the previous record of $2.2 million set in 1996 by an 1855 Swedish error of color stamp.
This incomparable icon of the stamp world was discovered by a 12-year old school boy and had sold for $1.50 in 1873, $750 in 1878, $36,000 in 1922, $45,000 in 1940 (private sale), $280,000 in 1970, and for $935,000 in 1980 to John E. du Pont, heir to the du Pont fortune, who died in in prison in 2010 for the 1996 murder of his wrestling partner, Olympic Gold Medalist David Schultz..
This 'stuff of dreams' set its fourth consecutive single-stamp world-record auction price since 1922, realizing more than ten times its $935,000 selling price in 1980. This sea-change event, the first time this legendary prize was offered in 34 years, earned unprecedented worldwide media coverage attracting major buyers and increasing demand for all rare stamps. With today's instant news, lap tops, tablets and smart phones, within hours hundreds of millions of people around the world knew about this historic sale. Since 1878, this timeless treasure's exquisite mystique, allure, romance, excitement and value grows with each new generation.
In 1856, the British Guiana postmaster ran out of stamps; the shipment was delayed. He asked a newspaper to quickly design and print temporary stamps (a 'postmaster provisional') but he was unhappy with the simple design. To make it difficult for forgers, a postal employee signed his initials on every stamp. The 1¢ rate was often used on newspaper wrappers, then typically discarded, but this lone example survived. It was discovered 17 years later by L. Vernon Vaughn, a sharp-eyed 12-year-old lad, in his parents' attic, to the delight of generations of philatelists. (In 1999, another purported 1¢ magenta made news but it turned out to be an altered 4¢.)
'Damus Petimus Que Vicissum’ (‘We give and expect in return’)
At just 1 / 300th of an ounce, 1" x 1.25", it is the most valuable object on earth for its size and weight. This tiny but powerful 'solitary grandeur,' since 1878 'the locomotive of the stamp world,' was once owned by Count Philippe la Renotiere von Ferrary who amassed the world's greatest stamp collection - seized by France for WW1 war reparations and sold in 14 landmark auctions 1920-1925. In 1922, King George V, the under-bidder, shocked everyone by failing to buy this 'creme de la creme' - the only British rarity missing from the fabulous Royal Heirloom Philatelic Collection begun in 1856 by Queen Victoria's son, Prince Alfred.
Rumors abound as to the identity of the 2014 $9.5 million dollar 'mystery buyer' - an anonymous telephone bidder. Perhaps it is PIMCO billionaire Bill Gross? His stamp collection reportedly tops $100 million. Could it be Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Sheldon Adelson, Larry Ellison, Ted Turner or Steve Wynn? Perhaps an agent for Great Britain's Royal Family? That would correct the biggest blunder of King George V who allowed the stamp to sell in 1922 for 'only' $36,000 to American textile mogul Arthur Hind. (Some 'insiders' think the buyer is a businessman, a long-time philatelist, who vowed to exhibit his amazing aristocratic acquisition.)
Special Note: This is not just a stunning event in stamp history; to me it is quite personal. Since age seven, I marveled at stories (The New York Times, Reader's Digest, Life, Look, Time, Newsweek, Coronet) about the famous 1¢ British Guiana stamp having graced world-renowned collections. Back then, leading stamp dealer H. E. Harris estimated its worth at the 'grand sum of $50,000.' My childhood memories are not unique; since 1878 millions of all ages have swooned over this magical, mystical masterpiece which for more than a century is ingrained in our culture, our heritage, whether or not you are a stamp collector. It was quite humbling to me as a youth, as it is now, to know that no other stamp that I, or anyone else, will ever own will ever equal its stature, majesty or value.
At the packed Sotheby's Auction Gallery, cameras whirred from major networks; far more press than for Van Gogh's $110 million 'Irises'. This story was covered by news outlets worldwide, cable and satellite TV, newspapers, radio, magazines, discussion groups, internet chat rooms, forums, blogs, as no other art or collectibles story in history. Discovered in 1873 by a 12-year-old school boy, this stamp simply transcends philately. Since their childhoods, I have told this story to my three daughters, and to my grandchildren, and it will be passed on to our descendants forever. There was even a murder, and now a mystery; who is the anonymous buyer? ### ©
~ BIO OF JAY TELL ~ ©
Jay has more than 50 years experience as a rare stamp and coin dealer, uniting treasures with serious collectors and savvy investors since 1958. He is a skilled buyer and appraiser, polished court-certified expert witness, confidential consultant, trusted agent; and is a lifelong specialist in U.S. and world stamp and coin classics, rarities, errors, inverted centers. Jay handles all kinds of collectibles, currency, presidential and historical documents, rare autographs, old photos, books, antiques, jewelry; gold and silver. Born in North Bergen, New Jersey in 1944, Jay is a former newspaper editor, publisher, investigative reporter; and is a lifelong writer.
Jay began his lifelong love-affair with stamps and coins as a boy, and had his first show booth in 1958, at 14, shared with a friend, at the first New York Interpex Stamp Expo. As a teenager, Jay visited old masters on legendary Nassau Street (hundreds of dealers in a few blocks) for his specialty, misprints. As an emerging entrepreneur, he pioneered the tiny error field which he helped grow to unimagined popularity. Jay became trusted by dealers who
taught him 'Your word is your bond.' 'High ethics are moral and good business.' 'You are not just selling stamps and coins, you are selling knowledge.' And, 'Everything a dealer buys should be for sale - don't compete with your collector and investor clients.' In the 1960's rents soared on Nassau Street (adjacent to Wall Street) so dealers were forced to move, ending the hobby's Golden Age, the final years of which Jay treasures as an integral part of his values.
Jay owned and operated five Los Angeles retail stamp and coin stores from the 1960's to the 1990's, starting in 1965 at age 21. He has handled more than 100,000 career transactions for millions of dollars in store sales, floor and mail auctions, trade shows, mail order, internet - with zero complaints filed in his years as a licensed and bonded California stamp and coin auctioneer.
The Nobel Prize (physics, chemistry) is inscribed, "For they who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery."
Jay made philatelic history when he bought and sold the only UNIQUE United States full-numbered stamp, the 1875 24¢ Winfield Scott, Scott #164, printed by the Continental Bank Note Company - so Jay dubbed it the Lost Continental. The original discoverer, from San Diego, California, was unable to sell it for 31 frustrating years (1968-1999); in three decades he had just one offer, $2,000. The stamp was rejected, ridiculed and belittled by the world's leading stamp dealers and most prominent auction firms who disparaged its legitimacy, convincing major collectors and world-class investors to 'stay away.' In 1999, Jay was called to see it.
When approached by the disheartened owner Jay soon became convinced the purple adhesive was authentic. He researched its amazing history and launched a major educational, publicity, editorial, promotional and advertising campaign at his own expense. He boldly took on very powerful interests who were determined to protect another stamp, the 1¢ Franklin Z Grill of 1868, Scott #85A, which was widely but 'incorrectly' promoted for 30 years as America’s rarest stamp. Yes, it is a great rarity, but there are two known examples of the Z Grill, so, if Jay’s #164 with only one known to exist was validated with a meaningful sale, the famous Z Grill would drop to second place. Quite simply, one extant is rarer than two. Despite millions spent for decades by industry leaders on countless ads, articles, books and catalogs 'erroneously' claiming the Z Grill to be the rarest U.S. stamp, it was soon to topple off its lofty perch.
Legendary philatelic authors were the pioneer stamp experts of the late 19th and early 20th century (Luff, Perry, Ashbrook, Chase, Brookman), but they could only presume or surmise that #164 should exist since no 24¢ Winfield Scott had ever been found on ribbed paper which positively identifies it as a Continental Bank Note Company printing. It features a color not seen before -- 'slate bluish purple' -- and the bold 'six leaf' fancy cancel used during this narrow period. Additionally, the #164 has the partially weak plate impression incredibly predicted in Lester Brookman's 1947 three-volume master work. Undiscovered since 1875, lost to the sands of time until 1968, the Lost Continental was not truly acknowledged for 124 years until Jay's landmark 1999 sale.
Jay’s ground-breaking research was featured in stories, large ads, and his hard-hitting four-page Tell Tales column (12/17/99) in Mekeel's and Stamps Magazine, America's oldest, established in 1891. His media blitz headlined that 'The famous Z Grill was NOT America's rarest stamp' as major auction firms and dealers had widely but incorrectly promoted for decades. Jay made a compelling case for the authenticity of the Winfield Scott ribbed paper classic. The romance and excitement of Jay’s Lost Continental expose earned comprehensive news coverage and full-page editorial support in the three most influential stamp publications. After 31 years of ridicule by so-called ‘experts’ with obvious ulterior motives, in just eight weeks start to finish, in the first-ever one-lot dedicated internet auction (12/21/99), Jay sold the #164 treasure for $397,838 -- which is still the internet world-record for any single stamp.
News of the historic event rocked the stamp world. It is by far the rarest and most valuable philatelic showpiece ever exclusively marketed on the internet, earning banner news stories in the philatelic press and in daily newspapers, and Jay was interviewed on three TV news programs. In January, 2000, amid armed guards, the only known example of the 24¢ Winfield Scott ribbed paper Lost Continental was the top exhibit at San Diego’s 28th annual SANDICAL Stamp Expo, setting the all-time attendance record.
Scott #164 is now recognized by the renowned Scott Stamp Catalogue (established in 1868) as the only unique United States full-numbered postage stamp. It is certified as the only authentic #164 by the prestigious N.Y. Philatelic Foundation (established in 1945) the 'Supreme Court' of philatelic expertise; and #164 is proudly celebrated in the Court of Honor as America's Rarest Stamp by the American Philatelic Society (established in 1886) - the world's oldest, largest, and most respected stamp organization.
No museum has #164, not even the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. No one can complete a U.S. stamp collection without the Lost Continental. Even the $8 million Zoellner collection, once the most valuable U.S. collection, did not have this key stamp, which now resides in the fabulous Bill Gross collection reportedly valued at more than $100 million. His award-winning 19th century U.S. stamp collection could not be complete without its capstone, its flagship, the UNIQUE #164, the only one in the world.
Jay’s acquisition of the Lost Continental and his landmark auction sale of #164 for nearly $400,000 established the first shot out of the box world record, an unprecedented initial sale never equaled before or since. Plus, #164 holds the world record for the highest price for any single stamp or philatelic item exclusively sold on the internet. The 'singular sweet splendor' Lost Continental today is estimated at perhaps $1.5 million. Being the first dealer in history to buy and sell America's Rarest Stamp is the crowning achievement of Jay’s exciting career begun as a collector since age five, and as a dealer since the age of 14 in his New Jersey attic.
In 1962, an 18-year-old Jay was the first stamp and coin editor of the Las Vegas Sun creating a Sunday magazine editorial and advertising spread. The world’s largest stamp newspaper, Linn's Stamp News (established in 1928), reprinted some of Jay's articles. Jay attended Nevada Southern University (later to become UNLV) serving as Editor-in-Chief of the college newspaper. He also worked nights in 1962 and 1963 as a busboy and waiter at the legendary Sands Hotel, epicenter of the entertainment world during the luminous 'Rat Pack' era of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Don Rickles, etc.
Jay co-managed his first political campaign at age 18, in 1962, before he could even vote, and the stunning victory of unknown Ted Marshall for Clark County District Attorney remains one of the biggest upsets in Nevada political history. A decade later, in 1971, Jay’s newspaper, the Las Vegas Free Press, risked everything by running an explosive expose which prevented a 'cinch’ win by the huge favorite in the Las Vegas City Commission race, Paul Price, the powerful but corrupt top columnist for the Las Vegas Sun. After his shocking defeat, Price sued for $500,000 for 'libel,' but the charges were proved and the case was settled totally in Jay's favor.
Jay joined the American Philatelic Society in 1963, the American Numismatic Association in 1964, and is proud to be a Life Member of each highly respected world organization. Jay is one of a few honored with both APS and ANA 50th Anniversary Medals.
In 1964, at 19, Jay opened his first office, in downtown Los Angeles (Stack Building), soon opening a store on Spring Street in the financial district, first of his five Los Angeles retail stamp and coin stores spanning four decades - the 1960's to the 1990's.
Considered one of the most beautiful stamps, this $1 Cattle in the Storm (from a John MacWhirter painting)
is part of the nine-stamp set (1¢ to $2.00) commemorating the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha.
In 1965, at 21, Jay became the first stamp and coin editor of the Los Angeles Times, creating 'Stamp & Coin Corner' a popular Sunday column that ran for 30 years. In 1965, he leased the Lesser Building penthouse on Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills, installing the first nationwide coin teletype system - serving clients from all walks of life including film/TV folks. In 1965-69, his Fairfax store (adjacent LA's original Farmers Market) pioneered and helped create the modern stamp, coin, collectible and bullion business.
His next three retail stores were in LA's San Fernando Valley - Sherman Oaks 1973-74, Studio City 1974-83, and Tarzana 1984-92, his largest, a 2,000 sq ft retail showroom and auction gallery featuring rare stamps and coins, classics, errors, historical and presidential documents, rare autographs, paper money, mail and floor auctions, antiques, jewelry, early books, gold and silver.
Jay Tell’s memberships:
Jay's fearless investigative reporting championed civil rights, protecting the environment, a drug-free non-smoking healthy lifestyle and natural foods. He backed stronger health care coverage, equal opportunity and protection for all Americans. Often for the underdog, he supported minimum wage increases, equal pay for equal work for women, the first Fair Housing Law, and the new Public Defender's Office so each accused gets a Constitutionally-required attorney; principles which were then controversial but are now more widely accepted. Jay opposed the Vietnam war but supported our valiant troops and mourned his fiancee's brother and 58,220 brave U.S. military who tragically died there. In the 1970's, Jay owned Nevada's first health restaurant, Food for Thought.
Bobby Darin was Jay’s close friend and business partner, and his death at only 37 in 1973 is still an irreplaceable loss. Bobby wrote and recorded 'Splish Splash' and 'Dream Lover', and sang 'Beyond the Sea', 'If I Were A Carpenter' and the mega-hit 'Mack the Knife' winning two Grammy awards. Bobby recorded more than 300 songs, 30 albums, and outdrew Frank Sinatra at the Copacabana and other famous nightclubs. He co-starred in 13 films, was nominated for an Oscar, and won a Golden Globe. In 1970, with life-threatening health issues and in retrospection rethinking the meaning of fame and fortune, his career was quiet. Jay truly believed in Bobby's amazing talents and negotiated (gratis, as a friend) Bobby's highest-ever salary, $40,000 a week, at top Las Vegas Strip Hotels. A month of main room sold-out performances at the Landmark Tower was followed by two engagements, of one month each, at the famed Desert Inn Resort. Bobby's career took off (again) and in his last year with us, before his 'final curtain,' he starred in his own weekly NBC-TV one-hour prime-time variety show. Since childhood, Bobby had suffered from heart-damaging rheumatic fever and had known, since the tender age of eight, that he would not live a long life -- but boy, did he live a full one!
In 2003, on the anniversary of his friend's passing, Jay wrote the 'Bobby Darin 30th Anniversary Tribute' now published on more than 30 websites (given gratis, upon request) to honor Jay's dear friend. Enjoy Bobby's moving 'Horacio Alger' story at:
http://www.canadafreepress.com/golden-oldies/bobby-darin040407.htm ...and... http://www.bronxbabe.com/Page27.html
Bobby Darin, his son Todd, his wife Sandra Dee
Jay's late father, Jack Tell, was a St. John's University Law School graduate who joined The New York Times rising to an assistant editor, the first to see and realize the historical importance of Mussolini's WW2 upside-down death photo. A relative was stamp editor of the New York Post, so Jay grew up within both the journalism and philatelic communities. He attended the University of Nevada, Reno and Las Vegas. In 1960, Jay's parents, Jack and Bea Tell, purchased Mark Twain's world-famous Virginia City Territorial Enterprise newspaper from history and railroad author Lucius Beebe and moved the family West. At 17, Jay cut his journalistic teeth writing, researching, editing, and setting headlines with ornate hand-carved wood fonts. He helped run the same century-old Mealy flat-bed press actually used by Mark Twain and an historic Linotype melting lead ‘pigs’ for 'hot type' galley proofs.
In 1965, the Tell family founded the Las Vegas Israelite - 'Nevada's only English-Jewish newspaper' - well-respected, still going strong in its 50th year of continuous publication - and still family-owned - with Jay's brother, Michael Tell, at the helm.
In 1958, Jay's first major ‘find’ was an 8¢ Liberty plate # block with only one plate number instead of two (one for each color, blue and carmine). It was rejected as a ‘fake’ by major New York stamp dealers. The owner disagreed since he’d purchased it at the post office. Veteran dealers referred him to an 'error specialist’ across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He was shocked and amused when the ‘Mr.' Tell turned out to be 14 years old with three attic rooms of Lionel trains, planes, toy soldiers, stamps and coins. The man’s asking price was only $3.75 which included 50¢ for his round trip bus fare. After inspection, Jay purchased the widely scorned item and was thrilled to get a certificate of authenticity from the renowned Philatelic Foundation in New York. He soon sold the error for $250, a fortune for a ninth grader in 1958, and a life-changing confidence builder. It was the first of only five 8¢ Liberty (Scott #1041) one-number errors ever discovered - and Jay has handled three (ask for the full Tell Tales story gratis, via email).
At 14 years old, Jay's first major 'find' with only one plate number instead of two.
Of five of these rarities known to exist, Jay has handled three, including the first.
In 1959, at 15, Jay published a 16-page illustrated price list, the first solely devoted to stamp errors, now a classic in the field. Jay has announced major finds of rarities and errors not in catalogs. In 1961, Nassau Street dealer Morris Greebel consigned a 1918 Jenny Inverted Center (Scott #C3a) to Jay who sold it for $4,500, turning a tidy $500 profit for the 17-year-old. Today, Jenny Inverts are the world's most famous stamp errors, having sold for $126,500 to $977,500 each (depending on condition). From the only sheet of 100 Jenny Inverts discovered, by William T. Robey in 1918, 98 are known, two are missing (request the Tell Tales story).
The 1918 Jenny Invert unique Plate # Block of Four - the 'stuff of dreams' - sold in 1951 for $18,250, in 1989 for $1.1 million, and in 2005 for $2.97 million, a 16,274% increase. Along with other fabulous philatelic treasures, miniature works of art, the Jenny Invert Plate # Block is displayed in the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's new 12,000 sq ft William H. Gross Gallery.
The 1918 Jenny INVERTED CENTER unique Plate # Block of Four sold for $2.97 million in 2005.
In 1966, at 22, Jay helped list silver dollars on the New York Mercantile Exchange, on which Jay owned a seat which he later sold for a profit. Bank depository receipts for 'Morgan' and 'Peace' U.S. silver dollars (1878/1928) in 1,000-coin bags became America’s newest trading commodity, and the landmark event earned a spread in Fortune Magazine. Jay was interviewed on TV and radio programs, including the nationwide Joe Pyne Show broadcast on hundreds of stations coast to coast. Jay urged the public and his clients to invest in rare stamps and coins with a finite supply and strong demand, which have since greatly appreciated.
Normal stamp Black 100% omitted
In 1991, a major discovery of Jay’s was again news. The 20¢ multicolored 1982 'Love' stamp plate # block of four contained the only two copies known to exist with the purple color 100% omitted -- a unique rarity certified authentic by the esteemed Philatelic Foundation of New York. Jay's publicity and advertising blitz yielded front-page stories and the one-of-a-kind treasure sold for a record $22,000. The singular showpiece is listed as major error #1951e, without a price, in the Scott Stamp Catalogue.
Jay is a former consultant-contributor to the prestigious Scott Stamp Catalogue, since 1868 the premier annual philatelic reference set essential for millions of collectors, dealers and investors around the world; the indispensable 'standard of the industry.'
Jay has handled world-class stamp and coin rarities, famous errors, proofs, essays, covers, 19th/20th century classics, unique treasures, one-of-a-kind showpieces. Jay has bought and sold perhaps 300 U.S. inverted centers, probably more than any other dealer except major auction houses. Most collectors and dealers have never owned even one prized inverted center in their lifetime.
The 24¢ 1869 Pictorial INVERTED CENTER depicts in just 3/8"x 5/8" 23 Founders (nine with faces) presenting a
draft of the Declaration of Independence (from John Trumbull's 12' x 18' iconic painting gracing the U.S. Capitol
Rotunda since 1826). Of 90 known 24¢ 1869 'topsy-turvy treasures,' Jay has handled perhaps 12. This historic,
stirring portrait is the final freeze-frame of the 1972 film 1776. Jay says, "I get chills; the painting, the stamp, and
the movie memorialize the momentous, magnificent, matchless, magical moment -- when America was born." ©
John Trumbull's huge 1819 painting shows 42 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. We forgive the talented micro-engraver of the 24¢ 1869 Pictorial Issue, for depicting 'only' 23 Founders in the stamp's tiny vignette.
Since 1958, Jay has bought and sold rare autographs, letters, signed photos, historical documents such as large, ribbon-bound Presidential Patents (1825,1833,1856) signed by Presidents John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan; and Henry Clay, famed Speaker of the House. Jay sold a signed Albert Einstein hand-written letter and signed photos of Einstein, JFK, FDR; also a Ty Cobb letter; and a 1957 N.Y. Yankee team baseball with 23 signatures including Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Don Larson (only World Series Perfect Game), Slaughter, Martin, Skowron, Bauer, Shantz, Carey, Kubek, Terry, etc.
Phones: 818.905.1111 or 818.515.1222 Fax: 818.905.1114