Collectors of British Guiana stamps will have to accept that at least one space will be left empty in their album as the world’s rarest stamp comes from British Guiana. The 1856 1c black on magenta paper is unique and last sold in 2014 for around £6 million. Currently it is on loan to the Smithsonian Postal Museum in Washington (I flew over there from the UK to see it and it’s certainly the best museum in the American Capitol, take my word for it…)
British Guianas first stamps were issued in 1850, looking rather like a circular postmark and type set in black on coloured paper they are referred to as the ‘Cotton-Reels’ . Perhaps the single greatest collection of these stamps was held in the John du Pont collection which alongside the aforementioned rarity was sold- off in 2014.
A large amount of stamps are listed by Stanley Gibbons as issued in 19th Century British Guiana, almost all depicting in one style or another a large sailing ship under full sail, various perforation gauges and paper thicknesses making this a rewarding area for collectors. The first truly pictorial stamps were issued in 1898 for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and depicted Mount Roraima and the Kaieteur Falls.
For collectors of this area, apart from the excellent stamp listings by Stanley Gibbons we would recommend “The Postal history of British Guiana” by Edward B. Proud which details the wide range of postal markings available with much interesting background information. The independent country of Guyana continues to issue beautiful stamps.