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Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Irish Stamps

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Author: Emil Drkusic
Date: 20/12/2021

We’ve already talked about the rarest stamps from Germany, France, and the UK. Today we’ll talk about Ireland and add a little bit about postal history and most valuable Irish stamps.

First Irish Stamps – Overprints 1922 & 1923

The Irish War of Independence (Cogadh na Saoirse) lasted from 21 January 1919 until 11 July 1921. The result of this war was signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921. That led to a ten-month transitional period overseen by a provisional government. On 6 December 1922 the Irish Free State was created.

Together with this political change, philatelic changes also took place. In 1922, Oifig an Phoist (The General Post Office / An Post) had been founded in order to take care of the stamp production and mail delivery.

King George V Overprint - 1922

Provisional Government of Ireland

King George V Overprint

1922/02/17

Face value: ½ p - Irish penny

Print run: 10,320,000

King George V Overprint - 1922

Provisional Government of Ireland

King George V Overprint

1922/02/17

Face value: 5 s - Irish shilling

Print run: 8,000

As you could see, all stamps from 1922 were overprints of King George V with value ranging from ½ p to 10 s. This was directly related to the fact that the Irish Free State was created on 6 December 1922. This led us to the release of first 12 Irish stamps.

First 12 Irish Stamps

First Irish Stamps

Ireland

Symbols 1922-34

Starting from 1923/04/20 (1922 for 2d)

Sword of Light, Map of Ireland, Coats of Arms of the Four Provinces and St. Patrick, and Celtic Cross in different color variations

Face values: from ½ p - Irish penny to 1 s - Irish shilling

As we can read here: “In February 1922, Postmaster General J.J. Walsh TD launched a competition to design stamps for the nascent State. Designs were required to be 'symbolical in character, and the inscriptions must be in Gaelic characters'. A prize of £25 was offered for each design accepted.”

“Designs by James Ingram, Lily Williams, John J. O'Reilly and Millicent Grace Girling were selected and Ingram’s design was the first Irish designed stamp used in the independent Free State. The denomination was 2d, two old pennies. Printed in deep green on white wove paper, it was watermarked with a monogram S.E. for Saorstát Éireann. In a frame of a Romanesque arch, shamrocks and Celtic-revivalist zoomorphic ornamentation, it featured a map of Ireland without designating the border, 'the image had political as well as symbolic importance’.”

Most Valuable Irish Stamps

Ireland, as an independent state, is here for almost more than 100 years now. No wonder that led to a number of stamps being produced along the way with some of the achieving high prices today. Now we’ll take a look at some of these and explain why they are so valuable.

I’ll split them into 2 categories containing 2 most valuable stamp errors and 3 most valuable old Irish stamps.


Famous Irish Stamp Errors

Stamp errors are simply a gold mine. This stands for Ireland, but other countries as well. We’ll take a look at the two of them.

Captain Jack White Irish Stamp

Ireland

2014/04/17

Irish Citizen Army (Captain Jack White Stamp)

Face value: 60c

Estimated value: around 3,100 EUR

The Captain Jack White Stamp had been issued pretty recently in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Irish Citizen Army. It was intended to honor “Captain Jack White, a former British Army Officer who, in 1913, volunteered to train the Irish Citizen Army”. After debating with historians and checking the facts, it became clear that the person on the stamp actually wasn’t Jack White (actually it’s believed that the man on the photo is Irish Citizen Army member Vincent Poole). Therefore, the stamp had been withdrawn and the new one had been issued later that year, this time containing only “a photograph of the Irish Citizen Army at Croydon Park, Dublin”.

Irish Pavilion New York World's Fair 1964-5 Stamp

Ireland

1964/07/20

Irish Pavilion New York World's Fair 1964-5

Face value: 5p - Irish penny

Estimated value: around 4,700 EUR

This stamp error doesn’t have as interesting story as the previous one, and is a classic example of a printing error. Stamps that are the ones with the actual high values are these with brown print omitted.

Most Valuable Old Irish Stamps

In this section, we’ll check three more valuable stamps. Unlike the previous two, which are newer and have higher value due to errors, these three stamps hold their value for being old and rare.

King George V Overprint (red overprint) Irish Stamp

Provisional Government of Ireland

King George V Overprint (red overprint)

1922/02/17

Face value: ½ p - Irish penny

Estimated value: around 1,600 EUR (200 EUR estimated value from https://twitter.com/IrishStamps)

The least valuable out of these three is a King George V red overprint dating back from 1922. At that time, what would become An Post later, worked with what they had. And they had a number of King George V stamps.

Provisional Government of Ireland

King George V Overprint

1922/02/17

Face value: 10 s - Irish shilling

Print run: 20,000

Estimated value: around 2,700 EUR (2,800 EUR estimated value from https://twitter.com/IrishStamps)

The 2nd most expansive old Irish stamp is also a 1922 King George V overprint. Since this one had been originally printed in small numbers, this high value comes directly from that fact. It’s believed that only 5 unused are in existence today.

Map of Ireland - Most Expansive Irish Stamp

Ireland

1935

Map of Ireland

Face value: 2d - Irish penny

Estimated value: 10,000 – 11,000 EUR (16,000 EUR estimated value from https://twitter.com/IrishStamps)

The most valuable old Irish stamp, but also the most valuable Irish stamp over all is a 1935 2d Map of Ireland stamp. The design is the same as was the design of the 1922/1923 stamp, but new and innovative technique (top and bottom were perforated while left and right sides were imperforated). It’s believed that only 20 mint examples, with a few used and a few more on covers, are in existence these days.

Conclusion

From the philatelic perspective, countries (or territories) that were established after stamps already existed are very interesting because these political changes also produced a number of interesting stamps – ranging from overprints to the first stamps printed in that country. Many of these stamps were produced in really small quantities and therefore can achieve high values. We could see that today, on the example of Ireland. Therefore, don’t miss upcoming the articles in this series, because we’ll have more philatelic intrigues related to history and politics.

And while you wait for the new articles, feel free to check previous articles from this series covering:
UK - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable UK Stamps

France - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable French Stamps

Germany - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable German Stamps

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