One man owns two of the only very expensive stamps in the world. Let us say each stamp was worth a million dollars. A second man comes along and destroys stamp one. The catch is that now according to the new value the one stamp is worth more than two million, meaning the owner had a zero net loss and even had a net gain.

Is the person who destroyed stamp one responsible to pay? If so, how much? Or does the owner of the stamps have to pay him for the extra value his stamp now has?

(sources please)

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    How about if someone breaks something where the owner is insured, is that not the same question? In both cases at the end of the day the owner does not take a financial loss.
    – CB01
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 22:11
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    If I remember correctly, if you cause damage, you pay based on the value of the object at the time the damage was caused.
    – Shmuel
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 18:15
  • Somewhat similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/90618
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 5:44
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/90810
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 16:34
  • All the comments and answers so far use only the financial value, and since this is only an analogy, perhaps that's correct. But could other factors be taken into account too? E.g. The owner intends to will one stamp to each of his two children. That ability has also been destroyed, but it has no explicit financial value. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 15:01

3 Answers 3


There's a famous analysis of the two stamp question attributed to R. Chaim Soloveitchik - it's cited here, albeit without any source.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik raised the following question regarding this scenario - there only exists two of a certain type of stamp and they both belong to one individual. Since two of these stamps exist, they are each worth $50. If there would only be one of them in the world, it would be worth $100. If someone were to destroy one of the stamps, would he be obligated to pay the owner or would we say that since there was technically no loss of money – as the remaining stamp increased in value – he is not obligated to pay?

Initially, Reb Chaim said that it is dependent on the question that we mentioned earlier. If the obligation to pay, when one damages, is to reimburse the owner for his loss, then in this case where there was no loss one need not pay anything. However, if one is obligated to replace an item that he damaged, and if he is unable to replace it he must then pay for it, then in this case that finds him unable to replace the item he should be obligated to pay for it.

Reb Chaim then said that even if the obligation of someone who damaged is to replace the broken item, he is only obligated when there is a loss. If there is no loss whatsoever, he is not a mazik (damager), and would thus not be responsible. Therefore, if the remaining stamp is worth less than the combined value of both stamps (less than $100) – namely that the owner incurred a loss – he is considered a mazik, and will therefore be obligated to replace the stamp at full cost.


This "2 Stamp" question is brought in the Sefer "Ohel Yeshayahu" on Baba Kama.

See below for the question and R' Chaim's answer.

Photo of Page in Sefer

  • 4
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! Can I recommend you take a look at the tour to get an idea of how the site works? When you get a chance, could you possibly edit this to include the information in the link, just in case some day it goes dead, so that future visitors will be able to access this information? Thanks for sharing, and hope to continue learning with you!
    – DonielF
    Commented Oct 3, 2019 at 17:23
  • What is the question that you are asking? Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 0:36
  • The 2 stamp question in OP
    – Shmeeeel
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 11:24
  • Welcome to MY! Is the content different from this other answer on this page?
    – mbloch
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 12:01
  • Very interesting the two pshat are different
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 7:15

No sources, but some logic.

Damages paid are the difference in value (fair market value) to the damaged object.

Here, the individual stamp is worth far less, while the collection of stamps is worth more. So if one considers the stamp as the object damaged, the tortfeasor is liable; if one considers the collection, he's not.

More than that I can't guess at.

  • 3
    Logically, though (and again, I don't have any source either), you should consider the individual objects rather than the collection. Previously, he could have sold each stamp individually, and might have been more easily able to find buyers for each one; now, he needs to find someone who's willing to pay $2 million+ for the one stamp.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 15:14

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