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Lick That: Astonishingly Rare Stamp Sells For $9.6 Million

It originally contained an invitation to a ball but has become the most expensive envelope ever sold worldwide.

One of three ball invitation envelopes from 1847 has been sold for a groundbreaking 8.1 million euros ($9.7 million) in a German auction.

The orange-red British Colony Mauritius post-stamped envelope is the only one in private hands with the remaining two owned by Queen Elizabeth II and the British Library.

It sold for more than double the bet price, according to reports from auction house Gärtner in Bietigheim-Bissingen near Stuttgart.

The one-penny stamp that depicts Queen Victoria was one of the first two British Empire stamps to ever be produced outside Great Britain.

“Bordeaux Cover” with Mauritius 1d Red and 2d Deep Blue “Post Office” auctioned in 1993. (Zenger News)

The “1847 Mauritius 1d Ball Cover” is the most expensive envelope that has ever been auctioned worldwide. The auction took place in the Gartner Auction House in Ludwigsburg on June 26.

The “Post Office” orange-red one-penny stamp along with its deep blue two-pence counterpart were engraved by England-born miniature painter Joseph Osmond Barnard, who stowed away on a ship to Mauritius in 1838.

The Mauritius 1d Red and 2d Deep Blue “Post Office” pair auctioned at the 1985 Jakubek auction. (Zenger News)

However, the stamps weren’t issued until 11 years later in the then-colony Mauritius on Sep. 21, 1847.

According to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, the blue stamp is looked upon as the best stamp in the Royal Philatelic Collection.

Some stamps were used on covers that contained invitations to a ball organized by Lady Elizabeth Ann Gomm who was the wife of the governor, Field Marshal Sir William Maynard Gomm. According to the British Library, only three such covers exist today.

One of them was offered by a private owner at a starting price of 4 million euros ($4.8 million) before being bought for a record high price. The buyer is an anonymous German speaker from Europe.

50 people were present at the auction, but only four placed bids.

The previous owner of the envelope, who is a collector in Singapore, said it was with a heavy heart that he parted with the rare stamp.

“I enjoyed every second of the prestigious Mauritius Ball Cover from 1847, but I felt that it was now time to pass it on to someone who is just as passionate and proud to own it,” he said.

According to the auction house, the historically valuable envelope with the stamp only changes hands every few decades. Three parties expressed their interest and raised their hopes when bidding on the phone.

The price for this copy was reportedly so expensive because the other two are not for sale.

(Edited by Izzy Angeli and Kristen Butler)

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