As a stamp enthusiast we know you’re far from superficial.
One of the first lessons of this fascinating and rewarding hobby is that good looks don't mean much.
The bright, colourful, illustrated stamps that tempt so many kids into philately are great fun.
But many of the world’s most valuable stamps are austere and plain to look at.
You see the uninspiring aesthetics of this fascinating 1886 Madagascan stamp issued by the British consulate as an opportunity.
Beyond the buff facade - the dull favourite colour of the "official" UK - is an impossibly fascinating tale of imperial struggle.
Plus, collectors know that a simple design is often a good sign on an old stamp.
They tell us that in its day it was of little contemporary worth.
Not designed to be appreciated.
Or to last.
And very few of these stamps have.
Which is good news for you, the buyer.
Madagascar (British) 1886 mint, SG43a - with missing handstamp
The design of this 1886 4d rose stamp made for British use in Madagascar couldn’t be more functional.
A simple and sharp repeating-pattern border in rose red is the only concession to prettiness.
But the stamp tells its 19th-century user everything they need to know.
They were buying 4d worth of postage.
And in 1886 on Madagascar, that would almost certainly have meant a postal worker walking across an island that was yet to have roads.
This little piece of paper was enough to send the postman tramping and trekking from the inland capital, Antananarivo, to Tamatave the island’s main port.
There packages were sent on overseas.
And we have to presume the vast majority of these inland stamps were thrown in a bin.
We know that very few have made it to the 21st century.
The full stop after the monetary value adds further rarity to the stamp
A mysterious journey
When you receive this stamp you must treat it carefully.
The paper it’s printed on is fragile.
(Call us for expert advice on storage.)
Very few of the Madagascar stamps of this period survive.
And the vast majority of those that did were used.
What stands out about this 4d stamp is that no-one ever paid for it.
It never trekked across the island. It was never thrown on an office floor.
And crucially, it was never stamped.
Almost all examples of this stamp feature a "BRITISH CONSULATE ANTANANARIVO" or "BRITISH VICE-CONSULATE ANTANANARIVO" handstamp.
This handstamp is absent from your stamp - creating a piece of great scarcity
Yours does not. And that transforms this stamps from an interesting postal relic, to a philatelic treasure of the utmost rarity.
Why is there no handstamp?
Because it was never used.
Perhaps a British colonial official fancied a souvenir for a young relative back home.
They made an important choice.
Collectors of British Empire stamps chase this item avidly.
It is one of the most valuable Empire stamps.
And its scarcity has a mystique of its own.
It’s a British Empire stamp from an island that was never a British colony.
Not that the British didn’t want to plant a Union flag on this extraordinary island kingdom.
They expended a good deal of effort towards that end.
But around the Berlin Conference of 1884 deals were done.
The period is defined by historians as The Scramble for Africa.
It ended with just a handful of independent African-ruled states and a map coloured in imperial colours inside ruler-drawn boundaries.
And Madagascar was painted in French blue.
The Berlin Conference of 1884 drew boundaries between imperial powers.The British had accepted French dominance - in return for control over Zanzibar.
Yet that didn't stop the British consul in Madagascar issuing its own stamps from 1884 to 1887. For use by British nationals on the island.
The French view of Madagascar on a pamphlet by journalist Henri Galli from 1895.
An important relic
All this makes this stamp a fascinating relic of the age of empires.
The British had influence in Madagascar. The French, ultimately, power.
Largely by mutual agreement. What a carve up.
This stamp matters for your collection
That’s a lot of history for such a tiny piece of featherweight paper to carry.
The Madagascar (British) 1886 Mint, SG43a ticks all the boxes for collectors.
- It’s scarce
- It’s in unparalleled condition
- It’s an unusual and fascinating edition from a collectible territory
It will be in demand with my customers.
And remember, the fact it has never been circulated means it is completely unmarked.
Most examples of this stamp carry a spot of gum in the top left-hand corner of the front. A relic of the posting process.
Yours is perfect.
I’d love you to own this stamp.
You can now for just £6,000.
Just email me now on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +44 (0)117 933 9500 to discuss your purchase.
I'll explain the personal Lifetime Moneyback Guarantee of Authenticity and 28-day no-quibble returns policy that are my standard terms.
Delivery to you is free and insured - wherever you are.
Though, not on foot through tropical forests.
Thanks for reading,