The Treskilling Yellow Stamp

It holds the record as the highest selling stamp in the world (though the auction for the British Guiana 1c stamp may pass it soon).

The three skilling banco error of color, of which only one exists, comes from Sweden. The stamp got its cancel at Nya Kopparberget on July 13, 1857.

It all started when Sweden issued its first postage stamps in 1855. The stamps displayed the Swedish coat of arms in denominations of three skillings in a blue-green color and eight skillings in yellow.

But one special three skilling stamp printed in yellow instead of blue-green.

The mistake went unnoticed for a number of years. The official Swedish currency even changed to ore as time passed.

But in 1886, a young philatelist named Georg Wilhelm Backman sorted through covers in his grandmother’s attic and found the rare stamp. Not realizing the true value of the stamp, he sold it to a stamp dealer for seven kronor, about the equivalent of a dollar today. The stamp collector reportedly sold it for the worth of $500.

After extensive searching, collectors realized that this stamp was the only of its kind.


The stamp changed hands many times throughout the years. Philipp von Ferrary, who had the largest known stamp collection in the world, bought it for 4,000 Austro-Hungarian gulden. Ferrary also owned the 1856 British Guiana 1c Magenta, the 1851 2c Hawaii Missionary cover, and the only cover with both Mauritius Post Office stamps.

Ferrary’s collection was auctioned off in the 1920s and the treskilling changed hands many times again. Even King Carol II of Romania bought it in 1950.

A number of questions arose about the legitimacy of the stamp throughout the years – was it all a forgery?

In the 1970s, the Swedish Postal Museum said the stamp was a forgery, but twice after that declared it to be a legitimate misprint.

Even if it was a forgery, the value placed upon it was immense thanks to the significance placed on it in the philately world.

In 2010, the treskilling sold in private auction for at least $2.3 million (the exact amount was not specified), a record amount for a single stamp.

Currently a Swedish nobleman named Count Gustaf Douglas owns the stamp.

3 thoughts on “The Treskilling Yellow Stamp

  1. Thanks for a really nice blog and a very interesting post. Given all of these really valuable stamps seem to be found in attics I really wish I had an attic in my house. Rummaging around in the garage or the toolshed just doesn’t seem as likely to yield a big find somehow 🙂

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