British Guiana One-Cent Magenta
The British Guiana One-Cent Magenta was already the world’s most expensive stamp before its sale at Sotheby’s in June where it made $7m (£4.97m). Buyer Stanley Gibbons is now “democratising” its ownership.

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The platform called Showpiece, built in partnership between Stanley Gibbons and its majority shareholder Phoenix Asset Management, will go live next month. The dealership said that it has had over 5000 expressions of interest in the scheme from participants so far.

The stamp – the sole surviving example of the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta – was offered at Sotheby’s New York in June where it was knocked down to Gibbons at $7m (£4.97m). The price including premium was $8.3m. Shortly after the auction the stamp dealer said it was planning to “democratise” its ownership by inviting the public to buy shares in the item.

It has now been announced that this process will occur in stages with the first phase being a limited time period when each piece of the One Cent Magenta will be on sale for an early adopter’s price of under £100. A spokesman said: “Showpiece will make the structure, individual piece pricing and total value public in advance of the launch in November.”

When asked if Stanley Gibbons will retain a stake in the stamp, the spokesman said: “The firm is keen to retain an interest in the stamp, and therefore will put themselves in a similar position to those individuals who purchase part of the stamp. Precise details have yet to be disclosed.”

The One Cent Magenta will be the first item made available for fractional ownership through Showpiece but it is envisaged that shares in other historical items and artefacts will be offered on its platform in a similar way including collectables from categories such as sport, entertainment, media and music.

The plaform will use Amazon’s quantum ledger database (QLDB) to maintain a “transparent, immutable, and cryptographical ly verifiable record of ownership”.

In terms of how and when owners can sell their shares, Showpiece has pledged to create a marketplace on its website within six months from launch allowing people to buy and sell to each other following the initial sale. Details of the transaction costs are yet to be released but Showpiece said its goal was to achieve “a major reduction” compared to the fees “typically associated with buying and selling these types of items”.

If an offer is made to buy an item outright, shareholders will be asked to vote on whether to accept the offer or not. If over 60% of the votes cast are in favour of acceptance, the item will be sold in its entirety and fractional owners will receive their share of the proceeds.

Chief executive of Stanley Gibbons and co-founder of Showpiece Graham Shircore said: “Showpiece makes the rarefied world of collecting these types of treasures an affordable pleasure open to anyone, not just the wealthy. One Cent Magenta is only the first amazingly rare item that Showpiece intends to offer ownership of.”

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