The National Postal Museum was recently visited by David Redden, a vice president of Sotheby’s, and some precious cargo, the One-Cent Magenta from British Guiana. (Sotheby's will auction the stamp in Manhattan in June.) Mr. Redden was joined by Robert Odenweller, of the museum's Council of Philatelists, a security officer, James Barron, a reporter from the New York Times and a photographer from the paper.
The occasion for the visit was to use the museum's forensic equipment to record information about one of the world's rarest stamps. Tom Lera, the museum's Winton Blount Research Chair, utilized several pieces of equipment that are part of the museum's philatelic research lab -- the VSC6000, Leica Microscope, X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF) and the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscope (FT-IR).
Tom examined the stamp and recorded detailed information on the markings, elements making up the pigments used for the magenta color and additional background data which could be used in future studies. Specifically, he used the Video Spectral Comparator 6000, which is a high resolution analyzer, allowing for the removal of color to better see the stamp and its markings under high magnification. The XRF to look at the elements used in making the magenta color and in making the paper and the FT-IR to determine the organic compounds present.
Detailed information about the the stamp was recorded related to the markings, elements making up the pigments used for the magenta color and additional background data which could be used in future studies.
CLICK HERE to link to James Barron's May 1, 2014 New York Times article.