P.S. This article was originally created on World Post Day 2016!
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The Penny Black, introduced by the Great Britain, happens to be the first adhesive postage stamp in the world. Issued in 1840, it was the brainchild of Rowland Hill who is regarded as the father of postal stamps. The Penny Black bears the profile of the British Queen Victoria. The stamp gets its name from its color and value. Several unused sheets of the Penny Black are kept at the British Postal Museum.
Designed by Melchoir Berry, the Basel Dove happens to be the world's first tri-color stamp. As the name suggest, they were issued in the Canton of Basel in Switzerland. The Basel Dove stamp had to be withdrawn because its blue-crimson-black color scheme didn't go well with the public. These rare, beautiful classical stamps are valued of CHF 18,000 per stamp.
The Hawaii Missionaries are amongst the rarest postage stamps in the world. Issued by the erstwhile Kingdom of Hawaii in 1851, the stamps were available in three denominations: 2 cents, 5 cents and 13 cents. They came to be known as 'Missionaries' because they were basically discovered on the correspondence letters between Missionaries working in Hawaii. All of the stamps were made on blue paper of cheap quality. The 2-cent version is the rarest of the lot as only 15 specimens exist today.
These stamps were issued in the year 1847 when Mauritius used to be a British colony. They were available in two denominations: one penny of orange-red color and two pence of dark blue. The stamps bear the profile of Queen Victoria. The stamp takes its name from the word 'Post Office' that's printed on it. Only 26 specimens of the stamp exist today and are valued at around $4 million.
There are only nine known specimens of the British Penny Red. Such is the antique value of this stamp that Stanley Gibbons was able to sell a copy (despite being in a poor condition) for a whopping £550,000. As per the documented history, the post office decided to destroy the printing plate as it were not satisfied by its quality. But, fortunately, one sheet did get into circulation.
The Edward VII Tyrian Plum happens to be one of the rarest postage stamps from the Great Britain. The stamp was issued as a replacement for the existing two-color two-pence stamp in the year 1910. Although, a total of 24 million stamps were printed, almost all of them were destroyed owing to the king's unexpected demise. Only a few stamps exist but the actual number is not known.
This Chinese stamp, issued during the Cultural Revolution in 1968, is noted for its printing error. Designed by Wang Weisheng, the stamp basically represented the expansion of Communism in China. It featured the map of China in red color but the map of Taiwan, although it was under the Chinese occupation, was not red but white. The stamps were immediately recalled once the error was noticed. Today, they feature amongst the rarest postage stamps.
This United States postage stamp was first issued on May 10, 1918. The cause of its infamy is that the image of the Curtiss JN-4 airplane in the center of the design is actually upside-down. It is arguably the most famous blunder in the history of American philately. Only one pane of 100 Inverted Jenny stamps was ever found which makes the stamp quite rare. A single Inverted Jenny was sold for USD 977,500 at an auction in 2007.
Baden 9 Kreuzer Error happens to be the most valuable German postage stamp. There are just four available copies of it and perhaps that's why the stamps are world famous. These stamps got printed in green color because of an error when actually they were planned to be printed in pink. Out of the 4 copies, one is unused and it was auctioned for 1,314,500 euro on April 3, 2008.
British Guiana 1c magenta is widely regarded as the rarest stamp in the world. In a 2014 auction, a British Guiana 1c magenta stamp fetched a whopping USD 9.5 million. Only one specimen of the stamp is now known to exist. It was issued in limited numbers in 1856 in British Guiana (now Guyana). Perhaps, it is the only major postage stamp ever issued that is missing in Britain's Royal Philatelic Collection. The stamp bears a sailing ship along with the colony's motto which reads 'Damus Petimus Que Vicissim' translating to 'We give and expect in return'. The stamp which has been described as a prized object in several films was discovered by a Scottish schoolboy in the year 1873 among his uncle's letters.