Half a stamp sells for $350,000

This half postage stamp from 1872 was sold at auction in Bietigheim-Bissingen, south Germany for $347,500 yesterday. Why so much for a postmarked, incomplete stamp? An auction house spokesman explains:

“Stamps were in short supply in Syke between 1872 and 1874 so it was decided that they should be cut in half as a makeshift solution,” she said. “But because this was only done for a short period, very few letters actually bear these halved stamps.”

The Syke bisect is both official and extremely rare. Only 3 of them are known to exist today, and this particular one is famous in its own right because it was on the cover of the definitive book on the Syke bisects written by the felicitously named Rolf Rohlfs in 1982. Two bidders, one from north Germany, one from the south, went head to head for this special half stamp. The north German collector won.

Also at auction this month, an extremely rare copy of Detective Comics No. 27 that featured the debut of “The Batman.” The comic book was purchased by an 84-year-old California man for only a dime when he was a teenager. Final bid? $492,937. (via the history blog)

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