British Guiana 'Cottonreel' stamp auctions for $225,000

A British Guiana 2c Rose stamp from the 1850-51 "Cottonreel" issue has sold at auction.

The scarce stamp – one of only four in existence – auctioned for £180,000 ($225,000) at Spink in London on January 24.

British Guiana 2c

Said to resemble the ends on a cotton thread reel

It is the finest of the four known as it is the only one with no clear defects.

The 2 cents was among four denominations (2c, 4c, 8c and 12c) that formed the first stamps from British Guiana.

The July 1850 stamps were created at the Royal Gazette of British Guiana newspaper. They received their "cottonreel" nickname due to their resemblance to the wooden ends on a cotton thread reel.

"In terms of "Classic" rarities, this "Number One" example of British Guiana is considered to be amongst the greatest of all philatelic treasures," says the auction house.

"This is only the second opportunity for collectors to acquire this iconic stamp at auction over the last 90 years."

The auctioneer explains that rarity was also a key factor in the value of the item.

"There is only one other example held in private hands and that example is heavily repaired. The other two recorded examples are in the British Library and in the Post and Telecommunications Museum, Bonn."

British Guiana is a familiar name to followers of philately. The British Guiana 1c, printed in 1856, holds the record for the most valuable stamp in the world. The unique example auctioned for $9.5m in 2014.  

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