The One-Cent Magenta

The One-Cent Magenta

By: James Barron (author)Hardback

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Description

When it was issued in 1856, it cost a penny. In 2014, this tiny square of faded red paper sold at Sotheby's for nearly $9.5 million, the largest amount ever paid fora postage stamp at auction. Through the stories of the eccentric characters who have bought, owned, and sold the one-cent magenta in the years in between, James Barron delivers a fascinating tale of global history and immense wealth, and of the human desire to collect. One-cent magentas were provisional stamps, printed quickly in what was then British Guiana when a shipment of official stamps from London did not arrive. They were intended for periodicals, and most were thrown out with the newspapers. But one stamp survived. The singular one-cent magenta has had only nine owners since a twelve-year-old boy discovered it in 1873 as he sorted through papers in his uncle's house. He soon sold it for what would be $17 today. (That's been called the worst stamp deal in history.) Among later owners was a fabulously wealthy Frenchman who hid the stamp from almost everyone (even King George V of England couldn't get a peek); a businessman who traveled with the stamp in a briefcase he handcuffed to his wrist; and John E. du Pont, an heir to the chemical fortune, who died while serving a thirty-year sentence for the murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz. Recommended for fans of Nicholas A. Basbanes, Susan Orlean, and Simon Winchester, The One-Cent Magenta explores the intersection of obsessive pursuits and great affluence and asks why we want most what is most rare.

About Author

James Barron is a reporter for the New York Times, where his writing has appeared in virtually every section of the paper. He is the author of Piano: The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand, and he also edited The New York Times Book of New York. He and his wife live in New York City.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781616205188
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 224
  • ID: 9781616205188
  • ISBN10: 1616205180

Delivery Information

  • Saver Delivery: Yes
  • 1st Class Delivery: Yes
  • Courier Delivery: Yes
  • Store Delivery: Yes

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