The authenticity of the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta– possibly the world's most valuable and certainly the most famous stamp – has been verified by the Royal Philatelic Society of London, meaning it is now set to be auctioned this summer.
Issued in 1856 in Guyana, the 1c magenta is a limited edition stamp of which only one now remains.
"British Guiana was one of the first countries in the world to issue their stamps, and this was a locally printed stamp, of which there are very few Four-Cent, and there's only one One-Cent," explained Chris Harman, the chairman of the Expert Committee of Royal Philatelic Society London.
The stamp's rarity and its monetary value means that many forged copies have popped up over the years, but upon close inspection, none of them were passed as genuine.
"Most of them fairly obvious, a lot of them printed by modern processes, a lot of them on modern paper so they're pretty easy," Harman added. "The most difficult to tell are those where someone has taken a Four-Cent and altered it to read One-Cent."
This one, however, has passed all the tests and will now be auctioned off by Sotheby's in New York in June, where it is expected to be sold for as much as $20 million.
If that happens, it will be a world record for an object that small to fetch a price that size.
"It is one inch by one and a quarter inches, it's tiny, and when it sells it will be the most valuable object by weight and size ever sold," Sotheby's Vice Chairman and Director of Special Projects, David Redden told Reuters. "Our estimate on this stamp is 10 million dollars to 20 million dollars."