A stamp, created by a newspaper publisher when a British colony ran out of proper stamps in 1856, "will be by size and weight simply the most expensive object ever sold in history." The British Guiana One-Cent Black on Magenta stamp will sell at Sotheby's on June 17 and is expected to fetch between $10 million and $20 million. If that sounds like a lot for a stamp, that's because it is. The most expensive stamp to ever sell at auction went for a far less-impressive-sounding $2.3 million, the Washington Post reports. The British Guiana hasn't been seen in public for 28 years and was last owned by convicted murderer John duPont, who died in prison four years ago, reports the Guardian.
The stamp can be traced back much further than duPont, though. Sotheby's notes a young stamp collector living in what is now Guyana found it among his late uncle's letters in 1873. Since it was cut at the corners and a bit smudged, Louis Vernon Vaughan sold it for six shillings, or about $1.50 at the time, to a dealer who reportedly said, "I am taking a great risk in paying so much for this stamp and I hope you will appreciate my generosity." It had an estimated value of $40,000 by 1935, at which time Vaughan said "the world's greatest stamp dealers and philatelists are ready to outbid each other and pay ridiculous sums of money for that little scrap of paper that I once owned."