Last night the 158-year-old British Guiana One-Cent Black become history’s most valuable postage stamp when it was sold for $10 Million dollars at a Sotheby's auction. By size and weight it became the most valuable object ever sold!
Understanding how this piece of paper amassed this value is of significant importance to anyone seeking to create powerful brands and desired products. Let's start with the most obvious.
Rarity-The stamp was the last supply printed in British Guiana, one of the oldest British Colonies on the Northern Coast of South America.
Size of market and correlated demand- Besides the stamp, the history of British rule is a hugely significant legacy for anyone who was part of the empire where the sun never set. This means that the actual size of the market for anyone with historical links to the empire and the stamp itself is absolutely massive.
Pedigree- The Guiana One-Cent Black has passed through the hands of some of the most famous stamp collectors in the world. Before Count Philippe la Renotiere von Ferrary, owner of the world’s most famous stamp collection, possessed the piece, it was in the collections of some of England's most wealthy collectors.
An amazing story- The stamp's amazing story is probably what attributes most to its value. After being donated to a museum in Berlin by the Count it was captured by the French in the post World War One reparations. It was bought by various American Industrialists, one who had a flair for marketing stamps and used to carry it round publicly in a briefcase attached to his arm with a host of bodyguard. The stamp was then bought by the heir to the Du Pont chemical fortune who was subsequently convicted of murder and spent the rest of his life in prison. His trust is now putting it up for sale.
From 1873, the first time the one-cent magenta stamp was sold to a local collector for a few shillings (Current value 10 Pounds Sterling or $16 US), its value has increased 62 million % or 62499900%.
If I take away anything from this amazing sale is that we will pay huge amounts of money to own a piece of history. More importantly, the new owner of the stamp who remains anonymous has bought the right to tell a very powerful story and present the one-cent magenta as a symbol of that journey which encompasses the whole Birtish Empire.
As you develop your business, do not underestimate the value of the story behind it. If you feel it is lacking, do something to create some mystery, rarity and pedigree because ultimately they are significant drivers of human behavior.