Position 34 - 2003-11-01 Transaction Summary

Purchase Date:
How Purchased:
Where Purchased:
Matthew Bennett, Inc.
Auction No.:
Lot No.:
Catalogue Value:
$ 170,000
$ 143,000


Airmail, 1918, 24¢ carmine rose & blue, center inverted (C3a), position 34, beautifully well centered, fresh rich colors, o.g., hinge remnant, minor small thin spot. Extremely Fine appearance, one of the widest margined and best centered examples of this famous invert.

Scott $170,000

Expertization: 1978 (photocopy) and 2003 P.F. Certificates.

The story behind the "Inverted Jenny" is certainly one of the most well-known and fascinating in all of stamp collecting. It began with the somewhat hurried decision, in early 1918 (with the First World War still in progress), to issue a set of three postage stamps for the first official U.S. airmail flight, then scheduled for May 1918. Production time was extremely limited. Moreover the high value of the set, the 24¢ value, was to be issued in two colors (red and blue), with one color to be printed first, and the printed sheets then reinserted in the printing presses for the second color. Despite all efforts to catch any printing errors, one sheet of 100 stamps, printed with the second color (the "Jenny" in the center of the stamp), upside down, managed to escape detection.

This error sheet was sold to Mr. William T. Robey, a stamp collector living in Washington, D.C. He normally bought a full sheet of each new postage stamp as it was issued, for his collection, and it was therefore natural for him to try to acquire a sheet of the new airmail stamps. Robey could barely contain his excitement when the postal clerk (not suspecting or noticing the error) brought out the sheet for him. Robey bought the sheet (this was during his lunch hour) and returned to his job as a stockbroker's clerk, where he told a few friends about his amazing find. They in turn tried to buy more of those stamps "with the upside down airplane". A few hours later postal inspectors were asking Robey to sell the sheet back to them. Robey naturally refused. The next day on May 15, 1918 Robey wrote to the famous dealer Elliot Perry saying "I have secured a sheet of 100 with inverted centers". (the letter was sold in our Sale 201, June 1997)

In the end, though he did not sell it to Perry, but to a well-known dealer Eugene Klein, who sold the sheet to Col. Edward Green. The sheet was then broken up into singles and blocks.

The present single is one of few that is fresh and well centered. With so many of these stamps having distractions-- 19 are straight edged, many are off centered, quite a few have disturbed gum or lost the gum entirely, some have more severe faults, and seven are apparently lost-- the stamp offered here is clearly among the most attractive and desirable.
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