A penny black stamp is seen under the magnifying glass at Stanley Gibbons stamp collection shop in central London, September 12, 2013. Reuters/Paul Hackett

Stanley Gibbons, a rare stamp specialist, has sold a Mahatma Gandhi rare stamp for £500,000 (AU$850,646) in a UK auction. The seller said that it is the highest price being paid for Indian stamps.

According to the seller, there were only 13 of the 1948 Gandhi 10-rupee Purple Brown and Lake Service stamps that were in circulation. Among the rare Indian stamps, the strip of four Gandhi stamps was sold to a private collector-investor in Australia. The strip fo the service stamps was considered as one of the most desirable collector items in Indian philately with only single examples known to be in private hands. The seller said that a client in Uruguay bought a single example for £160,000(AU$272,206).

Based on the issued sheet supplied to the governor-general's secretariat, among the 13 single examples of the rare Indian stamps included the strip of four that was recently sold and a block of four in the Royal Philatelic Collection. The block of four was owned by Queen Elizabeth II and it was believed to be the world's largest and most valuable stamp collection.

Managing director of investments at Stanley Gibbons Keith Heddle said that the market for high quality rare Indian stamps has been strong for several years. He said that it was supported by the ongoing desire of the savvy international clients and wealthy Indian diaspora to own the historic assets.

In March, the famous Four Annas was sold for almost £110,000(AU$187,142). It was considered as an Indian philatelic rarity which the stamp's image showed the head of the young Queen Victoria was inverted in error.

The Stanley Gibbons Group plc specialises in the retailing of collectible postage stamps. The company is known as a major stamp dealer and a philatelic publisher. Its subsidiary Stanley Gibbons limited has a royal warrant of appointment from Queen Elizabeth II. It was quoted on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange. New offices were recently opened in Hong Kong and Singapore but the company was incorporated in Jersey. It hs offices in London, Ringwood and Guernsey.

Its first stamp catalogue was issued in November 1865 and it was reissued at a monthly interval for the next 14 years. The company said that its catalogue is in retail price meaning that the current catalogue price is the price that the company will charge for it. However, in practice, the actual price charged by the company may be different from the catalogue price due to the different grade of the specimen for sale.

Mahatma Gandhi's most expensive stamp