Lot 30049
British Guiana » 1850 Cotton-Reels (SG 1-8)
Price realised
360’000 GBP
400’000 – 600’000 GBP
Auction date
Thu 14 Oct 2021 at 15:00 (Europe/Zurich)


1850, 12 cents black on pale blue, Townsend Type A, showing the famous setting error “1” of “12” omitted, with initials of the postal clerk Wight “EDW”, with margins varying from a bit into, to ample, used on entire letter from the Vicar at Leguan to “The Right Reverend, The Lord Bishop of Guiana”, tied by “DEMERARA/7.MR.1851” datestamp; (SG £1,000,000; Scott US$950,000).

The only example recorded of this famous variety, which together with the 1865 1c Magenta, is regarded as one of the two most important rarities of British Guiana.

ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST AND OUTSTANDING PHILATELIC ICONS AND ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS OF BRITISH EMPIRE ERRORS. A must for the most discerning collectors looking for top rarities of the world, and a museum piece with the greatest provenance, including the two most renowned collectors of philatelic history: Ferrary and Burrus.


The AIEP expert Jean-François Brun, in a recent article, took the alternative position that the numeral of value is really an “8” rather than a “2”. In Mr. Brun’s opinion, this would mean that this stamp is an unrecorded error of paper colour for the value. The “normal” 2 Cents (a great rarity in any form) is on rose paper, and the normal 8 Cents is on green – so in either case, the stamp is acknowledged as the unique error of colour!

In the Maurice Burrus sale by Robson Lowe in 1963, this item was described as: “Although creased by the letter and irregularly cut, this error ranks with the mutilated example of the 1856 1c in as much as each is believed to be unique”. Both jewels of worldwide philately, the “One Cent magenta” and the “Two Cents Error on Cover”, were equally considered in terms of rarity; the 1856 1c Magenta, whose previous owner was the famous shoe designer and entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman, was recently sold by Sotheby’s in June 2021 for $8,307,000.


Philippe von Ferrary (Lot 199, Sale II, October 1921)

Maurice Burrus (Lot 12, Robson Lowe, November 1963).

Expertise: Signed Jakubek, Roger Calves and Jean-François Brun, Cert. BPA (2003), RPS (2003), Roger Calves (2004) & Jean-Francois Brun (2004)

Catalogue reference: SG 7b