One-cent magenta enters spotlight at Gibbons HQ as ‘pieces’ sold via Showpiece

Five months after it was acquired at a New York auction by U.K. stamp firm Stanley Gibbons, the iconic one-cent magenta – the world’s most valuable stamp – is on display in London, England.

Gibbons acquired British Guiana’s unique 1856 provisional issue for $8.3 million US – about $10 million Cdn. – this June (“Gibbons acquires one-cent magenta with plans to offer fractional shares,” CSN Vol. 46 #6).

Since then, the 165-year-old stamp firm has been busy launching its Showpiece platform, which as of Nov. 11 has allowed people to purchase shares – something Gibbons has dubbed “pieces” – through a digital fractional-ownership plan. It’s a first-of-its-kind philatelic endeavour, but Gibbons plans to offer other collectibles through Showpiece, which is available at showpiece.com, in the future.

For its plans to “democratise” the magenta, Gibbons is offering 80,000 pieces, each of which can be purchased for £100 (about $165 Cdn.). Anyone over age 18 can now buy digital “pieces” of the world’s most valuable stamp.

The pieces began selling on Nov. 11, and as of Nov. 25, more than 51,000 pieces have been sold. Payments are currently accepted via major credit cards; however, Gibbons plans to begin accepting cryptocurrency payments in the near future.

“Using Showpiece, you become a true beneficial owner of the underlying physical item. Following a purchase of your pieces you will receive the documentation that enshrines your legal rights under English Law,” according to the Showpiece website.

Through the platform, Gibbons plans to offer other collectibles to allow collectors “to build a collection of the world’s most extraordinary and culturally significant items. We believe this is the future of collecting and are building a digital experience we hope you’ll love.”

Gibbons also plans to retain what it calls “a meaningful economic interest” in the magenta “for the foreseeable future.” The firm doesn’t plan to retain a majority stake, however, and will make 51 per cent of the pieces available for general sale.

One collector, Derwin Mak, of Toronto, acquired one piece of the magenta soon after the sales opened this November. He has since issued a stamp through his two-square-foot estate of Transcamster Bog in Scotland to commemorate his acquisition.

The physical one-cent magenta, which is the world’s most valuable object by both size and weight, will be displayed at Gibbons’ flagship store, 399 The Strand, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until Dec. 17 (with Saturday openings on Nov. 20, Dec. 4 and Dec. 8).

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