[Marxism] And I thought I was the only person who couldn't stand Sebastian Budgen

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jun 18 18:34:36 MDT 2014

On 6/18/14 8:23 PM, Matthew Russo via Marxism wrote:
> The sphere of
> non-productive consumption is ipso facto not directly regulated by the law
> of value, as is capitalist production.

Speaking of which.

NY Times, June 18 2014
Stamp Sells for a Record $9.5 Million

A tiny square of very old red paper with cut corners — a one-cent 
postage stamp from the 19th century — sold for $9.5 million on Tuesday, 
the most ever paid for a stamp at auction, but $500,000 short of the 
auction house’s $10 million to $20 million presale estimate.

The buyer, bidding by telephone at Sotheby’s on the Upper East Side, was 
not identified. The auctioneer, David N. Redden, opened the bidding at 
$4.5 million — $5.4 million once a 20 percent buyer’s premium was added.

The bids climbed in $500,000 increments to $7.5 million. After three 
more offers a bid hit $7.9 million, closing the auction at $9.5 million 
with the buyer’s premium.

Mr. Redden said he was anything but disappointed. “When you compare it 
to the record for stamps in recent history,” he said, “this is a real 
leap beyond prior levels.”

The last stamp to draw such attention at auction was the Treskilling 
Yellow, a Swedish stamp that sold for about $2.2 million in 1996, equal 
to about $3.3 million today.

A crowd of stamp dealers and collectors filled the auction room, with a 
row of television cameras in the back. “I don’t think they’d get that 
coverage for a van Gogh,” said Frank J. Buono, a stamp dealer from 
Binghamton, N.Y. “And by weight and volume and size, it’s the most 
valuable item in the world. Diamonds might fetch more, but they weigh more.”

The stamp is known as the One-Cent Magenta from British Guiana. It was 
printed by a local newspaper — the scheduled shipment of thousands of 
stamps from Britain did not arrive, and the local postmaster did not 
want to run out — and issued in 1856.

It carries the image of a schooner and Latin words that are often 
translated as, “We give and expect in return.” It had not been seen in 
public since the mid-1980s until Sotheby’s sent it on a recent tour of 
museums and libraries.

It is, as far as stamp collectors know, unique. British experts 
concluded that one that surfaced in the 1990s was, in fact, an altered 
four-cent stamp, printed around the same time. The one sold on Tuesday 
was authenticated by the Royal Philatelic Society in London this year.

Originally, it was apparently affixed to a newspaper wrapper or an 
envelope. One-cent stamps were commonly used for newspapers in British 
Guiana, according to stamp collectors.

No one knows why that particular wrapper or envelope, and that 
particular stamp, did not go the way of ordinary household trash, the 
way most newspaper wrappers did. But the stamp survived to be discovered 
by Louis Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old boy, in 1873. According to the 
catalog Sotheby’s prepared for the auction, the boy was the nephew of 
the person to whom the original wrapper or envelope had been addressed.

By then stamp collecting had caught on as a hobby, and the boy 
apparently believed that there were better stamps to be had. “As it was 
a poor copy with cut corners,” the Sotheby’s catalog explained, “he 
decided to sell it in order to buy some of the newer and more attractive 
issues that he had been sent on approval” by a British stamp dealer.

That decision started the One-Cent Magenta on an improbable journey that 
carried it from British Guiana to Sotheby’s via the vaults of several 
prominent stamp collectors, including Philippe la Renotiere von Ferrary 
of Paris and Arthur Hind of Utica, N.Y., a textile magnate who paid 
$35,250 for it in 1922, then a record price.

“Arthur Hind had never intended to even bid on the British Guiana,” the 
Sotheby’s catalog said.

But an encounter with a stamp dealer in London changed his mind, and 
owning the stamp changed his life. Mr. Hind later acknowledged that the 
stamp “had caused him to be ridiculed,” the Sotheby’s catalog said. “A 
London journalist described the 1856 British Guiana as ‘cut square and 
magenta in colour’ and himself as ‘cut round and rather paler magenta.’ ”

It set another record in 1980, the last time it was sold. John E. du 
Pont, an heir to the du Pont chemical fortune, paid $935,000 to add it 
to his collection. He died in prison in 2010, while serving a 13- to 
30-year sentence for the murder of Dave Schultz, a wrestler and Olympic 
gold medalist who had been training on Mr. du Pont’s property in 
Pennsylvania. The stamp was sold by his estate.

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