The rarest US stamp is going up for auction. It’s expected to sell for millions

The rarest US stamp is going up for auction. It’s expected to sell for millions - Arts and Culture - News

The Rarest US Stamp Ever: The 1868 One-Cent “Z-Grill” – A Treasured Prize for Serious Philatelists

For the most dedicated and passionate stamp collectors, an exciting opportunity awaits them this summer. The elusive 1868 one-cent “Z-grill” will be put up for sale, marking a rare and valuable addition to any prestigious collection. Interested collectors should brace themselves for a significant investment.

The Value of the 1868 One-Cent “Z-Grill”:
On June 14, the one-cent “Z-grill” will be offered for sale by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, with experts estimating it could fetch between four to five million dollars. This would make it the most expensive US stamp ever sold in history. Internationally, it is outshone by the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, which was sold for $8.3 million in 2021.

Ownership of the Rarest US Stamp:
Out of the two known copies of the one-cent “Z-grill,” one is held by the New York Public Library, leaving only one available for private collectors. Since 2005, this valuable piece has been in the possession of billionaire investor and bond king Bill Gross.

The Significance of the One-Cent “Z-Grill”:
Charles Shreve, who has managed and built Gross’ extensive stamp collection for years and serves as director of international auctions at Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, describes the one-cent “Z-grill” as the ultimate trophy for US stamp collectors. He emphasizes that this unique and rare piece is a must-have for those who wish to showcase their impressive collections.

The Unassuming Appearance of the One-Cent “Z-Grill”:
At first glance, the one-cent “Z-grill,” featuring Benjamin Franklin as its depiction, may appear to be an ordinary stamp. However, it is the distinct waffle pattern embossed in the paper, also known as a Z grill, which makes this stamp so highly coveted and valuable.

The History of the “Z-Grill” Technique:
After the Civil War, the US Post Office developed a fear of people cleaning and reusing stamps due to concerns over revenue loss. One method they employed to prevent stamp fraud was through grilling, which involved creating a pattern of small indentations in the paper’s surface. Once canceled, the ink would seep through these indentations, making it difficult to reuse. The “Z-grill,” while uncommon, was one of several grilling patterns used during this time.

Origins of the One-Cent “Z-Grill”:
The one-cent “Z-grills” were first produced in 1868. This particular stamp was discovered in 1916 and reemerged in 1957. It went on the market for the first time in 1975, selling for $42,500, and again in 1977 for $90,000. Eventually, it was acquired by Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who sold it in 1986 for $418,000.

The Journey of Bill Gross and the One-Cent “Z-Grill”:
Bill Gross, co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) and a lifelong philatelist, assembled a complete collection of every single US Postal Service stamp. His passion for stamp collecting was inspired by his mother, who started collecting when Gross was a child and believed they would increase in value to pay for his college education. When her collection proved worthless, Gross vowed to prove her theory correct by acquiring the rarest and most valuable stamps, including the elusive one-cent “Z-grill.”

The Acquisition of the One-Cent “Z-Grill”:
In 1998, Gross attempted to acquire the one-cent “Z-grill” during an auction but was outbid by fellow stamp collector Don Sundman. In 2005, Gross finally obtained the “Z-grill” by trading a block of Inverted Jennies, which he had purchased for $3 million, with Sundman.

The Future of the One-Cent “Z-Grill”:
Once Gross completed his goal of collecting every US stamp issued by the Postal Service, he ventured into acquiring other rare stamps before eventually losing interest. In 2007, he began selling some of his collection, but held onto the one-cent “Z-grill” until about 2017 when he decided to sell it along with the rest of his collection, which is estimated to be worth between $15 to $20 million. The top 100 stamps from the collection will be auctioned off on June 14, while the remaining stamps will be sold on June 15.

The one-cent “Z-grill” is an exceptional treasure for serious US stamp collectors, with a fascinating history and significant value. The upcoming auction presents a rare opportunity for collectors to own this elusive and prestigious piece of philately.