Stamp collectors are on a mission to own a $250,000 Hawaiian rarity

Siegel's upcoming 2011 Rarities of the World stamp auction in New York is to feature an example of an Inverted Jenny - an extremely impressive highlight for any auction.

The famed upside-down biplane is always a big hit with alternative investors at auction and the specimen is said to be one of the best-centred examples around.

You might think that there's nothing else in the catalogue that could match that, but Siegel always have more than one string to their bow at these events, and they have a very different highlight to the all-American Jenny, albeit sort of American in its own right.

That is an 1851 2c Blue Hawaiian stamp - the range better known as 'Missionaries' because of their use on mail sent by early missionary settlers on the islands in the 19th century.

The Missionaries were authorised by the Honolulu postmaster, Henry M. Whitney, a prominent merchant and printer. They were printed in 1851 at the offices of Honolulu's newspaper, The Polynesian, using printer's type currently on hand.

Hawaiian 2c blue stamp
Worth crossing half the planet for - the Hawaiian 2c blue stamp

The Missionaries consist of three denominations: 2c, 5c and two styles of 13c. The 2c is the rarest as it was used primarily on newspapers and other printed matter which was often destroyed.

Its other function was to prepay the 2c ship fee on mail to the United States - the only recorded 2c cover demonstrates this ship fee usage.

Owning one of these stamps has been the mark of truly great collectors, such as Ferrary, Tapling and Burrus.

This is a very fine appearing example of the legendary Hawaiian 1851 2-cent missionary, one of philately's rarest stamps. Only fifteen examples of this world-renowned rarity are recorded, of which ten are available outside museums. The present example is expected to sell for $250,000.

Examples of the 5c and 13c varieties are also available for five-figure sums in the June 18 sale.


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