11 July 2024

The famous British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, which is hailed as the world’s most expensive stamp at more than US$8 million (around THB300 million) and the Japan 1871 500mon Center Inverted, worth 4.4 million euro (around THB200 million), making it the most valuable stamp in Asia, can now be admired at the Thailand 2023 – World Stamp Championship (WSC) Exhibition.

The show is hosted by the Philatelic Association of Thailand under the patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn with the support of Thailand Post in accordance with Federation Internationale de Philatilie (FIP). It celebrates the auspicious occasion of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s 72nd birthday and marks the 140th anniversary of the first Thai postage stamp and postal services. The event also aims to promote friendly relations and maintain the close cooperation enjoyed by philatelists and stamp collectors throughout the world.


Endless opportunities to see and do

The exhibition showcases a wide variety of philatelic collections from more than 60 countries, featuring around 2,500 frames of exhibits, some of them the rarest and the most expensive in the world. With a comprehensive range of different stamps, the show takes all visitors on a wonderful trip around the globe to explore the colourful cultures told by the stories behind the stamps.

Among the exhibitors participating in the show are David Feldman, India Post, Japan Post, KT Collection HK, London Philatelists, Medal Association of Thailand, Monetarium Singapore, Museum of Philately, Stanley Gibbons Ltd, Thailand Post and The Philatelic Association of Thailand (P.A.T.) under the patronage of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

The highlights are, of course, the two most valuable stamps of all, the only surviving British Guiana one-cent magenta, and the Japan 1871 500mon Center Inverted, on show under the same roof for the very first time.

The British Guiana one-cent magenta is described by philatelists as “the Mona Lisa of philately”. The stamp was created in 1856 in British Guiana, now Guyana, due to a shortage of stamps usually imported from England. To deal with the problem, British Guiana issued a limited number of one- and four-cent stamps for temporary use while the postmaster waited for a shipment to arrive from England. There were 3 types: a four-cent stamp in blue and a one-cent stamp and a four-cent stamp in magenta. The one-cent magenta stamp was designed for delivering newspapers. The other two stamps, the four-cent magenta and the four-cent blue, were intended for letter postage.

The British Guiana one-cent magenta was discovered in 1873 by a 12-year-old Louis Vernon Vaughan, a Scottish schoolboy living in British Guiana. He found it among his uncle’s personal letters and sold it for six shillings to a local collector.

Since 1856, the stamp has passed through several owners and many of them have placed a personal mark on the rear of the stamp. Every time it has been sold, it has made headlines and broken records. Its previous 12 owners include the French government, the philanthropist John Eluthiere du Pont, heir to DuPont family fortune and murderer of the American Olympic gold medalist David Schultz, and American high-end shoe designer Stuart Weitzman who paid US$9,480,000 for it at Sotheby’s New York in 2014, breaking the sale record. The British Guiana one-cent magenta is currently owned by the rare stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons who purchased it at auction in 2021 for US$8,307,000.

Interestingly, for the first time ever, the private postage stamp collection of HRH Princes Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is being displayed along with her rarely-seen personal belongings.

Not-to-be-missed is POST Gallery, which illustrates the history of Thailand Post and its stories over the past 140 years through photos. The gallery is part of “POSTiverse”, 140 Years of Thailand Post, which marks its 140 years anniversary.

There is also a chance to see the Thailand Government Gold Bond, worth THB50 million.

Besides the exhibitions, visitors also enjoy a series of interesting activities and entertainment including a hunt for stamps at 14 highlighted spots and designing and writing a postcard to their future selves in the “Dear Future Me” activity.

Those who love art and appreciate the natural beauty of fresh blooms can join a flower arrangement workshop where an expert will demonstrate how to design and create a bouquet. Or have a go at tote bag painting.

Goodies and special merchandise are also available for purchase and include commemorative stamps designed by famous Thai artists and collections of limited-edition art toys inspired by the stories of the Thailand Post.

The Thailand 2023 – WSC Exhibition is open until Saturday, while “POSTiverse, 140 Years of Thailand Post continues until Sunday. Both events run from 9am to 9pm at the Grand Postal Building located on Charoen Krung Road, Bang Rak district. Entry is free.

By Thai PBS World Feature Desk