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“Rarest ever” unissued JFK stamps to be sold in European auction

Press release September 30, 2009 Politics

A set of rare unissued stamps celebrating the life of John F Kennedy is being auctioned by a British company


A set of rare unissued stamps celebrating the life of John F. Kennedy is being auctioned by a British company. 

The sheetlet of ten identical stamps is the printer’s proof for a series issued in the British territory of Gibraltar. 

At the last minute postage rates went up – meaning the 42p stamp was never issued. 

UPA’s Andrew McGavin said: “At the last minute before these stamps were printed the postal prices went up, and this stamp increased from 42p to 44p. It means this version of the stamp was never issued and the printers’ proofs are all that exist. That makes it very rare; possibly even the rarest JFK stamp in the world. This is one of the pieces in the auction that we know will attract a lot of attention.” 

The JFK stamp was part of a set prepared for the 2008 Europa Letter Writing series. 

Only this sheetlet of 10 stamps and five identical pairs exist in the whole world - and they are all up for sale in an auction of the official Gibraltar stamp proofs archive collected from 1995 to 2009. 

There are many proofs in the auction. Proofs are the prototype of stamp designs produced by the security printer for client approval. That means they are extremely rare, with some worth up to tens of thousands of pounds each. 

Universal Philatelic Auctions buys private collections and usually sells them in four 12,000+ lot catalogue auctions a year. This is their first specialist $850,000 auction for a unique collection. An archive like this usually goes on sale just once in a generation.  

The company has a unique reducing estimate model that automatically finds the market value of every stamp. If a lot isn’t sold it is automatically relisted in the next auction at a reduced price. This continues until the correct price for the stamp is found by the market and it sells. 

Official archives such as these are usually offered through the big auction houses, which charge a significant premium to buyers. But this archive is being sold by catalogue auction without extra premiums to individual collectors. 

The special edition catalogue for the Gibraltar proofs is destined to become a collector’s reference in its own right. The first 4,000 copies of the catalogue are free to collectors. 

The auction is scheduled to close on Tuesday 27th October 2009.

Images are available on demand. Call Zoe Coll in the UK on +44 1908 888838, or email [email protected] 

The entire archive is valued at $850,000, and is being sold in individual lots by the UK company Universal Philatelic Auctions (UPA), on behalf of Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau Ltd (GPBL). 

US collectors can request a free catalogue at

Collectors can request a free catalogue at



  • For any further information, quotes or interviews, please email [email protected] or call Zoe Coll in the UK on +44 1908 888838