Philatelists are drawn to collecting rare US stamps for a number of reasons. Perhaps it’s the thrill of finally locating the stamp they’ve wanted for some time. It could also be that rare US stamps are a piece of history. For history buffs, collecting stamps is a fun and rewarding hobby to invest time, money, and effort into. Some of the United States’ most rare stamps include unique issues of World War I, Benjamin Franklin, or transportation by train at the turn of the 20th century. Other stamps were printed in error, with the imagery being inverted – the unintended mistake significantly adds to their value. If you ever happen upon a rare, inverted stamp, it may be that you’ve found a very valuable stamp!

Stamp enthusiasts may also enjoy collecting rare stamps from the United States because they are works of art from many decades or even centuries past. Some of the art portrayed on antique postage stamps are beautiful and usually depict an important person or time in history that collectors enjoy showcasing in their stamp collection. Of course, another leading factor is that rare US stamps are hard to come by and are therefore worth a lot of money. In this blog post, we’ll cover the top 10 most sought-after rare stamps issued in the United States.

30 Cent Shield, Eagle, Flags, Inverted

10. 30c Shield, Eagle & Flags Inverted, 1869

Auctioned for $600,000

This Shield, Eagle & Flags issue is from the first stamp series to not feature portraits of prominent historical leaders. It was also the first stamp to use bicolor printing, however, it was infamous for its poor design and printing.

This stamp, unused, (including the original gum) was sold at a Siegel auction in 2013 for $600,000.

9. 2c Carmine Vertical Coil Pair, George Washington, Issued 1908

Auctioned for $700,000

Another stamp issue to feature George Washington, this vertical pair is considered one of the most important rarities of the United States’ philatelic history. This unique issue from 1908 is extremely rare and features a rich red coloration on clean white paper.

To find an issue of the 1908 George Washington coil pair in perfect condition with the original gum is exceptionally hard to come by. In fact, stamp experts believe that only five of these still exist in pristine condition.

One of the known existing examples of this pair is currently kept in the Miller collection at the New York Public Library. Being as rare as it is, in 2019, a pair of this George Washington 1908 issue was sold for a staggering price of $700,000.

US Rare Stamps, 2 Cent Carmine Vertical Pair

Inverted Christopher Columbus, 15 Cent

8. 15c Landing of Columbus with Inverted Center, 1869

Auctioned for $800,000

This famous painting by John Vanderlyn depicted the historic landing of Christopher Columbus, and it was issued on a 1869 stamp with an inverted center.

Printed in a distinctive blue and brown, this stamp, in excellent condition, was auctioned in 2013 for a whopping price of $800,000.

7. 1c Benjamin Franklin Stamp, Issued 1868

Auctioned for $850,000

During the Civil War period, a number of Revolutionary War-era depictions were issued. These included the rare portrait of Benjamin Franklin, easily one of the most significant and recognized political figures in America’s history. Though many Benjamin Franklin stamps have been issued throughout the history of the United States, this is among the most rare and valuable.

The 1 cent stamp, issued in 1868, was sold for $850,000 in 2005.

1 Cent, Benjamin Franklin, Rare US Stamps

3 Cent, George Washington, US Rare Stamps

6. 3c George Washington Stamp, Issued 1867

Auctioned for $900,000

George Washington’s portrait was printed on many issues during the 1860’s to commemorate the legacy of our nation’s first president, however, the one we’re pointing out is the 3c issue. This rare 1867 George Washington stamp, printed in rose, was sold for $900,000 in 2008.

If you’re hoping to add hard-to-find, George Washington stamps to your collection, trying to find this one in pristine condition will be a challenge.

5. 10c Green Z. Grill Stamp, Issued 1867

Auctioned for $1,000,000

Another rare U.S. stamp seldom seen is the 10 cent Green Z. Grill stamp, which was issued in 1867. Ever since a Laurence & Stryker auction in 1958, the stamp had been unseen until a Siegel auction in 2019, when it sold for $1,000,000.

The distinctive green coloration of this stamp and the portrait of our first president makes this a dynamic issue and one of the most significant rare US stamps in our nation’s history.

10 Cent Green Z Grill Stamp, Rare US Stamps


4. Alexandria “Blue Boy” Stamp, Issued 1947

Auctioned for $1,180,000

One of the most desired stamps in philately is the Alexandria “Blue Boy” rare stamp. Stamp experts suggest that only seven of these rare US stamps have been preserved. Today, the “Blue Boy” stamps are all a brownish-yellow coloration – save one that is still a bright blue color.

In 1981, a “Blue Boy” stamp sold for $1,000,000 at the David Feldman SA rarity auction in 1981. Later in 2019, a blue “Blue Boy” stamp was sold for $1.18 million!

3. 24c Declaration of Independence Stamp with Inverted Center, Issued 1869

Auctioned for $1,200,000

One of our nation’s most significant moments is the historic Declaration of Independence. This postage stamp, issued in 1869, commemorated our nation’s independence from Great Britain. However, some issues that were printed that year were mistakenly printed with an inverted center.

The issues were printed in either green (pictured here) or in violet. A pristine, unused example with the inverted error sold for approximately $1,200,000.

24 Cent Declaration of Independence

24-Cent, Inverted Jenny

2. Inverted Jenny Stamp, Issued 1918

Auctioned for $1,350,000

One of the most famous of printed error stamps, the Inverted Jenny stamp, issued on May 10th, 1918, was issued originally at 24 cents. In 2016, a pristine copy of this inverted stamp was sold for $1,350,000.

The stamp features a Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” plane that was mistakenly printed upside down. Although most of the stamps with the printed error were destroyed, it is thought that 100 copies of this famous stamp still remain.

1. 15c Abraham Lincoln Stamp, Issued 1867

Auctioned for $1,400,000

During the Civil War, our nation’s 16th president had his portrait featured on a number of stamp issues. Pictured here is the valuable stamp of Abraham Lincoln from the Civil War era. In particular, the 1860’s stamps issued during the peak of the Civil War depicted two significant political figures during that time – Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson.

In 2018, this unique, historically-significant 15-cent issue block of 8 sold for a whopping $1,400,000!

15-Cent, Abraham Lincoln

Shop Rare US Stamps Today

Here at Mesa Stamps, we are committed to quality in our customer service. All our postage stamps are listed in mint, never-hinged condition unless otherwise stated. Every now and then, our experts run across rare or more valuable stamps that we list here on our website. Some of these stamps were issued in the United States, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Canada, and other countries around the globe. Learn more about the most valuable stamps around the world.

Having been in business for over 40 years, we ourselves enjoy the stamp collecting hobby and want to help stamp enthusiasts young and old find the stamp(s) they’re looking for to add to their collection. If you have questions, please reach out to us, and we’ll be happy to help you locate the perfect antique stamp.