Stamp collector who destroyed stamp he just bought?

I vaguely recall my contemporaries at school when I was around 9 or 10 (so mid-late 90s) saying something about a stamp collector who had bought one of the most valuable stamps in the world, there being only 2 or 3 in existence… then immediately destroying it, the action of doing so multiplying the value of another example he owned.

Does this inicident ring a bell with anyone?

There was a scene in Brewster’s Millions (the Richard Pryor version) where he buys a million-dollar rare misprint and uses it to send a postcard, thereby destroying it when it is cancelled.

No need, I’ll just eat it right here!

I’m skeptical that the value would go up that much. For example, you own a 25 thousand dollar stamp. You buy a duplicate for 22 thousand and destroy it. I can’t believe the value of the first stamp would rise to 47 thousand. That would be one heck of a gamble.

Collecting just isn’t that predictable. Value is what someone else is willing to pay.

I’ve only heard this posed as one of those puzzle-book riddles–the kind meant to be solved by asking yes/no questions.

“A man purchases an extremely rare item. As soon as he receives it, he destroys it. Why would he do this?”

Only three known? The story I’m guessing is fictional as destroying such a rarity would make no sense to a sane thinker. Or perhaps the OP is referring to the inverted Jenny (C3a) that was sucked up by the housecleaner’s vacuum.

Value shmalue! You want there to be as few extant examples as possible. Sure, you could sell them all and make a killing, because for any known rarity, the market will be elastic. But that’s nothing compared to having The Only One In The World - or even better, keeping it out of the hands of a rival you know wants it.

I think it is based on the theory that if there is a stamp of which only one is known, (one-cent British Guiana magenta, for example), its uniqueness could make it worth, say, ten million dollars. Another stamp, of which two are known, may be worth only one million each, there being a ten-fold premium for absolute uniqueness. So if the owner of the British Guiana discovers a second such stamp, there will then be two of t hem worth only a million each, for a total of two million. by destroying one of them, the other one’s value of ten million is restored.

It happened in an episode of “Kojak,” Night of the Piraeus.

IIRC it was a story about that self same stamp

Wikipedia says: “In the 1920s a rumour developed that a second copy of the stamp had been discovered, and that the then owner of the stamp, Arthur Hind, had quietly purchased this second copy and destroyed it. The rumour has not been substantiated.” No cite.

British Guiana 1c magenta

I haven’t seen the film, but that doesn’t sound very plausible in real life. Often, postally used examples of rare stamps are more valuable than unused ones, because very few of them ever came onto the market. I would have thought that a very rare stamp, postally used on a cover, would be very much sought after by collectors.

I believe I’ve read a similar account of purchasing and destroying a unique bulb during the Tulip Mania, but couldn’t find cite.

Maybe, but after using it legally Brewster no longer own the stamp, and thus it isn’t an asset to be counted against him.

True, but not relevant to this thread. In that story, he had a bunch of money that he needed to spend without giving it away for nothing. Since he paid big money and got a valuable stamp, that didn’t break the rules as set out in that story, and when he put the stamp on a postcard to mail it, that didn’t break the rules either. In this thread we’re looking for case where the stamp was used or destroyed specifically to raise the value of the OTHER copies of that stamp.

By the way, as I recall, the stamp Brewster used in that movie was the inverted Jenny, mentioned by Lukeinva above.

I’m imagining a reversal where some sharp-eyed postal worker notices the misprint before the postcard gets cancelled and steals it. :smiley:

Why would you quietly destroy it? I’d think you’d either hide the fact that it exists (and sell the first one), or publicly destroy it so that everyone was aware of how super-unique your stamp is.

Yeah, but there might be opprobrium from your fellow stamp-lovers for the act.

If a used stamp is more valuable, then why don’t owners of unused stamps use them?

Postmarks of one era don’t look the same as the postmarks of another era. The value of a used stamp will be affected by whether or not the postmark testifies to having been used before the error became famous.

Try taking a hundred-year old stamp, putting it on a letter, and trying to sell it as “used”. Most will look at it and say “What a shame. Someone used the stamp recently, not realizing how valuable it is.”