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