Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The "Treskilling" Yellow, or 3 skilling banco error of color, is a postage stamp of Sweden, and as of 2004 the most valuable stamp in the world. At a price of 71 billion US dollars per kilogram (as of 1998) it is one of the most valuable things in the world by weight and by volume. (However, it is not as expensive as antimatter and some radioisotopes.)
In 1855, Sweden issued its first postage stamps, a set of five depicting the Swedish coat of arms, with denominations ranging from 3 to 24 skillings banco . The 3-skilling banco value was normally printed in a blue-green color, while the 8-skilling was printed in a yellowish orange shade. It is not known exactly what went wrong, but the most likely explanation is that a cliche of the 8-skilling printing plate (which consisted of 100 cliches assembled into a 10 x 10 array) was damaged or broken, and mistakenly replaced with a 3-skilling cliche. The number of stamps printed in the wrong color is unknown.
Somehow this error went entirely unnoticed at the time, and by 1858 the currency was changed, and the skilling stamps were replaced by new stamps denominated in ÷re . In 1886, a young collector named Georg Wilhelm Baeckman was going through covers in his grandmother's attic, and came across one with a 3-skilling stamp, for which local dealer Heinrich Lichtenstein was offering 7 kronor apiece.
After changing hands several times, Sigmund Friedl sold it to Philipp von Ferrary in 1894, who had at that time the largest known stamp collection in the world, and paid the breathtaking sum of 4,000 gulden. As time passed, and no other "yellows" surfaced energetic searching, it became clear that the stamp was not only rare, but quite possibly the only surviving example.
When Ferrary's collection was auctioned in the 1920s, Swedish Baron Eric Leijonhufvud acquired the Yellow, then Claes A. Tamm bought it in 1926 for £1,500 (GBP) in order to complete his collection of Sweden. In 1937, King Carol II of Romania purchased it from London auction hourse H. R. Harmer for £5,000, and in 1950 it went to Rene Berlingen for an unknown sum.
- Sven ┼hman , The Yellow Three Skilling Banco
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