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BANNED: The Word of G-d

BANNED: The Word of G-d

The best value rarity I have in stock right now

If you are interested in owning something which is extremely rare, historically important and at a deep discount to its fair value, then read on… 

Around 10 years ago, we purchased an exceptionally rare entire sheet of 25 stamps from South Africa.

We have held it in our vaults since then. We think today it has reached maturity. 

A single stamp from this sheet is considered iconic in South African philately.

An entire sheet moves to legendary philatelic status.

It was never meant to be issued to the public due to religious objections.

The South African Postal Authorities withdrew the stamp before it was issued. They should have all been destroyed.

A few escaped.

It is now the most valuable stamp from the Republic of South Africa. 

This stamp sheet is sought after the world over and here’s why:

  • It is the premier modern South African stamp to own in the last 50 years
  • It was never meant to be issued
  • The religious controversary over its issue makes it highly collectible
  • The entire sheet of 25 of this most famous stamp has legendary philatelic status
  • Only 1,275 stamps escaped destruction in 1987. The entire intact sheet we have is the only one I have handled in 21 years of trading.
  • The sheet is in perfect mint condition (front and back)

In short, it is a real gem and from a strongly contested area of the stamp market.

The Stamp Sheet that escaped a certain death

It is a miracle this sheet of stamps survived and is still with us today:

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Technical description: 1987 40c (19 Nov) 'The Word of God' in Greek and Hebrew, complete sheet of 25 (5x5) with control numbers in upper right corner, unmounted original gum.

The unissued stamp which was withdrawn before issue because of religious objections, although examples are known to have been sold to the public at some smaller post offices (see footnote after SG 628).

A stamp of historical significance

In 1987, South Africa was in a state of national emergency with township uprisings, shootings, bombings and national strikes. 

Despite all that, the issue of a new stamp on November 19, 1987 managed to make the news.

The South Africa Postal Authorities had intended to issue a four-stamp set to commemorate the Bible Society of South Africa.

However, the 40c stamp contained two lines of script, one in Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, and one in Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. 

Both of the lines contained the word “God”.

The Orthodox Jewish community protested that the stamps were a serious transgression of Judaic law, which says that God’s name may appear only in the Torah and prayer books.

No offense had been intended by the Postal Authorities and they quickly recalled the 40c stamps from the Post Offices across South Africa.

The stamps were prepared to be destroyed in the interests of religious harmony. However, they were informed this was equally unacceptable to the Jewish community and were told that the stamps should be buried. 

The Postal Authorities decided that was a step too far and the stamps were duly destroyed. Most of them anyway…

Despite the Post Offices being instructed to withdraw the stamps, it is believed that 51 sheets of 25 stamps (1,275) slipped through the net.

It is understood that some of the smaller Post Offices were running short of 40c stamps and opened their parcels before the official release date. They were sold over the counter with many being used for postage.

The withdrawn “Word of God” stamp is very collectible because of its rarity and the controversy it caused. It is popular with both collectors of religion on stamps and Judaica collectors.

Available at a deep discount 

A single mint example of this stamp is listed in the South Africa colour catalogue at a value of 14,000 South African Rand (c.£700).

An article from a few years ago in the US stamp magazine, Linn’s Stamp News also reports prices for mint never-hinged examples at $1,000 (c£700).

The total value of the 25 stamps in the sheet is therefore £17,500. This is based on the break-up value of the sheet.

An entire sheet of stamps in perfect mint condition should command a premium to this value.

As such, the market value of the entire sheet of 25 stamps in perfect unmounted mint condition could be considered significantly more than the catalogue value of £17,500.

As we purchased this key rarity a decade ago, our cost price was lower reflecting the market value at that time.

The market has, however, moved considerably since then and today our price now presents incredible value.

You can purchase this entire sheet of 25 “Word of God” stamps from me today for just £9,950 ($14,000).

In other words, it could be yours for £7,550 less than the current catalogue value (43% discount). And, that’s before adding any premium for an entire intact sheet in perfect mint condition.


An investment in a bull market 

Five years ago, the catalogue price for a single “Word of God” stamp was 7,500 South African Rand.

The growth in value of 87% in just five years illustrates the strong bull market for rare African stamps in recent years.

This is not a surprise to me and I believe there is good cause to expect future market growth for rare stamps from South Africa.

Over the last decade many African nations have enjoyed the fastest growing economies in the world. Admittedly, the percentage growth is flattering in some countries primarily because of the very low base level they came from.

The most interesting dynamic, I think, is the impact of the large increase in Foreign investment in recent years. American and Chinese investors have invested heavily into textile plants in Africa increasing the average wage for African citizens.

The result is an increase in the emerging African middle class combined with improved education. It is widely accepted that wealthy, well educated people are the main demographic of stamp collectors.

The explosive growth in stamp prices from China and India in the past decade could therefore follow a similar pattern for African stamps.

The final important, but easily missed, dynamic is the impact of the managers from Europe and Asia that have lived in Africa in recent years to build businesses and plants.

It is often the case that, when these foreign business people go back home, some will choose to collect stamps from the nations they have lived in. Certainly, from my experience, expatriate collectors have always been a significant element in philately.

South Africa’s most sought-after rarity could be yours

To summarise:

  • A classic modern rarity from the emerging economy of South Africa
  • In perfect mint condition
  • At a significant discount to current market value
  • A stamp which is missing from most Republic of South Africa collections


Call me immediately on +44(0)1534 639998.

Or email me today at

As I said, in my view this is the best value rarity we have on offer right now.

Kind regards 

Mike Hall 

PS. If the featured sheet of stamps is outside of your budget, but you are looking for a South African stamp at a bargain price, I would recommend the following:

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South Africa 1908-09 Natal £1 purple and black/red, centrally cancelled by bold DURBAN circular date stamp, dated "23 JU 10", SGZ52.

A very fine and scarce interprovincial period usage (from 1 June 1910 - 31 August 1913). A real stunner!

The Stanley Gibbons catalogue value is £500.

Price: £395


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