The Top 10 Most Valuable US Stamps


There are a number of reasons why a stamp might achieve notoriety and an eye-watering price tag that reflects a serious collectors desire to add this rarity to their collection.

Stamps have proved to be a reasonable alternative investment when you look at some of the returns achieved over a period of time and if have the opportunity and the cash to acquire any of these top ten, you will probably be a very satisfied philatelist.

curtiss-jenny-uninverted-stamp#10 – Inverted Jenny

Maybe a slim chance of acquiring this rare and valuable stamp. There were only 100 issued and one of them is on display at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

With a face value of 24 cents and some as 2 dollars, these stamps are famous because the biplane featured in the picture was printed upside down by mistake. Each one is estimated to be worth at least $100,000.

However, since only one pane of all Inverted Jennies has ever been discovered, the design has subsequently become a highly valued prize for philatelists, bringing the price up to $200,000.

Furthermore, In October 2014, the plate block of four Inverted Jenny stamps sold for $2.97 million at a New York action to the U.S. collector Bill Gross. This set a new record for the highest price ever offered for any American stamp item of any period. This is almost three times the price paid for the same block in 1989 that was auctioned for $1.1 million.

#9 – Abraham Lincoln Stamp 1867

The 1867 Abraham Lincoln stamp features an extremely rare “Z” grill that has distinctive horizontal ridges rather than vertical ones that were a standard feature in other grill types.

In light of the extreme rarity aspect of this stamp and its significance during the Civil War period, it is valued to be worth in the region of $200,000.

#8 – 1c Benjamin Franklin Stamp

The stamp was issued in 1867 and is also a rarity due its unusual and rare “Z” grill with horizontal ridges, just like the Abraham Lincoln stamp.

There are only two known examples of this U.S stamp in existence and are each worth close to $1 million.

#7 – The Declaration of Independence Stamp 1869

There a number of reasons why this stamp is sought after by collectors.

The first is that the artwork is exquisite for a stamp and the other reason this one is highly-prized is that the 24 cent stamp uses a “G” grill and comes with a basic gum, split grill or double grill. If you have an unused sample with an inverted center, it is estimated to have a value in the region of $275,000.

#6 – Shield, Eagle and Flags Stamp 1869

This stamp was part of a collection of ten stamps that had a face value of between one and ninety cents.

The series of stamps was the first to make us of bicolor printing and was often criticized for the confusing arrangement of colors and the fact that it made the stamps appear to be poorly designed.

As you might expect, its value derives not from the fact that it was the first stamp to be printed using a new technique but because some of the stamps became inverted during the printing process. If you can find an unused sample that has inverted flags it would be worth about $200,000 and a used one will still fetch about $65,000.

#5 – George Washington Stamp 1867

Not surprisingly, the first president of the United States was extensively featured in a number of stamps.

The one that is of interest is the three cent B grill stamp in rose printing. There is nothing technically wrong with the stamp to add to its value, it is just a sought after stamp and although 1,000 were printed, only four are known to be in existence and they are worth about $165,000 each.

#4 – Benjamin Franklin Stamp 1908

Another rare stamp featuring Benjamin Franklin is the 1908 one cent stamp.

This stamp is widely known by philatelists as the Washington-Franklin issue and part of the attraction to collectors is the fact that only a portion of the U.S Postal Service watermark appeared on the stamp and each stamp was different with the watermark appearing in a backwards, sideways or topside position.

An unused pair of 1908 Benjamin Franklin stamps is estimated to have a current value of $100,000.

#3 – Landing of Columbus Stamp 1869

This stamp was a copy of the famous painting by John Vanderlyn and a feature of the stamp was an unusual double-printed vignette, with normal and inverted printing applied.

Costing just fifteen cents when it was released, an inverted sample of this stamp can be expected to fetch at least $275,000 if it went to auction.

#2 – Benjamin Franklin 1851

Another Benjamin Franklin stamp makes it into the top ten, this one being credited as one of the oldest stamps in existence.

The plates for these stamps were set by hand and stamps often required further cutting to adjust their position. This had the effect of producing a range of stamps with their own slight variations on the original design.

Only two mint samples and no more than 100 used Benjamin Franklin stamps from this collection are known to be in existence. If you can find a first-day cover example, you can expect it to fetch upwards of $120,000.

#1 – Hawaiian Missionaries Stamp 1851

This the name given to the stamps that were produced in 1851 because they were regularly used by American missionaries on the island to write letters to people across the way in the United States.

The very first stamps were poor quality and crudely printed when they were first produced and therefore very few have survived the passage of time. Only about sixteen copies in total are known to be in existence and an unused two cent missionary has a value estimated to be in the region of $750,000 or more.

Even a used version is worth in the region of $225,000, so this stamp is the most highly-prized of all the valuable US stamps.

Elizabeth Goldman is the editor of She has written for, and many others.