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A One-Of-A-Kind Auction

From stamps to coins to baseball cards, people collect rare or unique items, at least partly in the hope they will appreciate in value and perhaps one day fetch a handsome sum. One stunning example is the postage stamp collection of Robert H. Cunliffe, which will be auctioned in New York on June 18 -19 by Spink Shreves Galleries.

The collection features the rarest kind of postage stamps — ones with an inverted center, meaning the central image was mistakenly printed upside down. In a typical auction, these would be the most expensive on display, if there were any at all. The auction showcases over 600 lots containing thousands of individual stamps in what is, without question, the largest collection of inverted stamps in history.

Although the stamps have an original face value of just a few cents, the book value of some is anywhere between a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The auction house expects to generate $4-5 million in sales with the proceeds going to the estate of Cunliffe, who died last year, not long after the auction process was set in motion.

What are some of the rarest and most expensive stamps in this one-of-a-kind auction? Click ahead to find out!

By Paul Toscano
Posted 18 June 2009

Lot descriptions and images are provided by Spink Shreves Galleries.