The first American missionaries arrived in Hawaii around 1820. They sent letters to the United States. The Hawaiian government created its first post office in 1849, and printed its first stamps two years later. Given their use, the stamps were called “Hawaiian Missionaries”. They had a face value of 2 cents, 5 cents and 13 cents.
This stamp was at the heart of a murder mystery in France at the end of the 19th century. Gaston Leroux, namesake of the writer, lived in a very nice apartment in Paris at that time. He was a collector and had one of the famous 2-cent “Hawaiian Missionary” stamps in his collection.
In 1892, police were called to his apartment where they found him dead, murdered by an intruder it seemed. The problem was they could not find anything missing. Luckily, one of the detectives was a philatelist and upon observing that the dead man had a sizable collection, he took a closer look. He realized that Leroux had owned a Two Cent Hawaiian Missionary of 1851, a very rare and valuable stamp, and that it was missing. The motive began to take shape!
Upon investigating Mr. Leroux’s friends and associates, police came in contact with Hector Giroux who also had a collection, and in whose possession was…….a Two Cent Hawaiin Missionary stamp! Giroux broke down during questioning and confessed his crime–he had just wanted the stamp so badly. He was trialed, found guilty and hanged.
Only 15 copies of this stamp are thought to exist, and a copy of an unused 2¢ Hawaiian missionary sold in 1996 for $660,000.00! The current estimated value for this unused stamp is £450,000 and for a used version it’s £225,000.