Irwin Robert Weinberg (10 February 1928 – 2 May 2016) was an American philatelist and stamp dealer who formed the syndicate of Pennsylvania businessmen who bought the British Guiana 1c magenta, one of the rarest stamps in the world.
Early life and family
Irwin Weinberg was born around 1928 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel and Sara (Elkins) Weinberg. He graduated from E. L. Meyers High School. He married Jean Alice Tyrell in 1952 (died 1998) and they had children Jan, Robert and John.
Weinberg first worked as an elevator operator in New York City before moving into philately. He had collected stamps since he was 12 years old. He issued his first weekly price list at age 18 which he produced on a mimeograph machine and he continued to produce the list, the Miner's Stamp News, in the same way for 70 years and to work without administrative assistance.
In 1970, Weinberg was one of nine investors who formed a syndicate to purchase the British Guiana 1c magenta, one of the rarest stamps in the world, for $280,000. He had first seen the stamp as a teenager at the New York World's Fair. After acquiring it, he added his initials "I.W." in pencil to the back of the stamp. He travelled widely to exhibit the stamp, carrying it in a locked briefcase to which he was handcuffed and accompanied by armed security. The publicity helped to enhance the cachet and value of the stamp and allowed it to be seen by the public. In 1978, at the Capex exhibition in Canada, the key to the handcuff broke off in the lock and a hacksaw failed to release him. A replacement key was eventually obtained. The consortium sold the stamp at a 1980 Robert A. Siegel auction to John E. du Pont for $935,000.
At different times, he bought four copies of the Inverted Jenny stamp of the United States.
He was a member of the board of National Postal Museum and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws by the Dickinson School of Law. In 1995, U.S. Representative Paul E. Kanjorski gave Weinberg a salutation in the Congressional Record in which he hailed Weinberg's commitment to liberal causes. In 2009, he was inducted into the American Stamp Dealers Association's hall of fame.
Death and legacy
- Obituary: Irwin R. Weinberg. Times leader, 3–4 May 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Irwin R. Weinberg, once owner of 1¢ Magenta, dies at 88. Linn's Stamp News, 4 May 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Irwin Weinberg, Collector of Rare, Precious Stamps, Dies at 88. James Barron, The New York Times, 7 May 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- The Story of the World’s Most Famous Stamp from 1922 to the Present: Part 6. Sotheby's, 30 May 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- 1‐Cent Stamp Sold for $280,000. David Lidman, The New York Times, 25 March 1970. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Irwin Weinberg Got Attached to His $500,000 Treasure; Then He Found He Couldn't Get Loose. People, 10 July 1978, Vol. 10, No. 2. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Pushing the Envelope: A Storied Stamp May Fetch $10 Million. Ellen Gamerman, The Wall Street Journal, 13 February 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Irwin Weinberg. The American Stamp Dealer and Collector. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "The Irwin Weinberg Inventory", The Siegel Despatch, No. 54 (Fall 2016), pp. 3–7.