Flea markets are the latest place to find priceless objects, and this week’s find is a postage stamp possibly worth around $3 million. German pensioner Reinhold Hoffman, 70, discovered the rare stamp at a flea market in Dresden, picking it up for its 1861 date and image of Benjamin Franklin. His partner, Baerbel, 71, had purchased a four-pound book of stamps at the flea market, and this particular stamp happened to be among the book’s contents. The stamp is one of only 3,100 ever printed during the American Civil War, thought to be in circulation until 1867. “When I laid them out on the table and saw the one cent stamp, I stopped breathing,” Hoffman told the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail. A stamp dealer from Fort Wayne, IN notes the stamp as being one of only two known examples in existence, the other one being in the possession of a museum in New York.
It is yet to be determined exactly how much the new discovery is worth, because stamps from the 1860s can vary greatly in value depending on the type of paper used and the presence of a “Z” grill pattern of squares embossed onto the paper. This type of pattern was discontinued after only a few years of circulation, and the last known stamp of this type was sold for $930,000 in 1988. Hoffman has offered to reimburse anyone who sponsors him in flying to the United States to deliver the stamp to the Philatelic Foundation in New York, which is the only establishment able to certify the stamp’s authenticity.