If you’ve got an old stamp circa 1957 with the Shah’s picture printed upside down, I will offer $50 for it because it may be worth $50,000 or more (shouldn’t have told you that, so forget what I said). The whereabouts of only 4 are known, and since stamps are printed in blocks, there must be others somewhere on a love letter Khaaleh joon has been hiding, or an old post card Pedar has kept for nostalgia’s sake. Oddly, before 1987 these stamps were worth only $5000. The price went up 10 fold after a few CIA employees were caught selling some rare stamps that the agency had acquired. Suspiciously these stamps appeared on the market at exactly the same time. I don’t know why the CIA was collecting rare stamps or whether they still have a secret stamp collecting department, but I do know that the more history behind a collectible the higher its value. Spies having stolen the valuable stamps from their own government is a story that adds character to the items–in this case $5000 worth of character for being mistakenly printed upside down and $45,000 for being stolen by Felix Leiter.
If you can’t find the upside down Shah stamp, look for a stamp printed around 1950 with an upside down picture of the old Tehran post office. There are only two on the market but I know for a fact that 100 were printed. So the other 98 are somewhere in the same stash of old letters. On the off chance that neither stamp is discovered in your attic, I will settle for what I consider the most beautiful Iranian stamp ever made. This is the “reclining lion, smiling sun” stamp (above image, officially known as “recumbent lion” stamp) printed circa 1870 during the reign of Mozafarr-al-din Shah. I don’t know what one stamp costs, but if you happen to buy the whole set from the Homayoun Keykavousi collection (only about $400,000), just send me a letter with one of the stamps on it.
It may even be cheaper if you got the lion from the CIA employee black market, though I’m guessing they’ve moved on to selling unmanned aerial vehicles. Just my luck!