Position 9 - 2002-05-18 Transaction Summary

Purchase Date:
2002-05-18
How Purchased:
Auction
Where Purchased:
Siegel Auction Galleries
Auction No.:
846-2002 Rarities of the World
Lot No.:
2341
Sound/Fault:
Fault
Catalogue Value:
$ 170,000
Realized:
$ 0
Buyer:

Description

24c Carmine Rose & Blue, Center Inverted (C3a) Contained in Mabel Green's Legendary Locket. Position 9 from the top row with wide natural straight edge at top, rich colors on bright fresh paper, placed back to back with normal 24c 1918 Air Post (C3), held between circular glass disks secured in a gold-metal frame with clasp at top, the Inverted Jenny has two trivial corner creases at bottom from rim of pendant, small chip in edge of glass

THE LEGENDARY "LOCKET COPY" OF THE INVERTED JENNY. PRESENTED AS A GIFT BY COLONEL EDWARD H. R. GREEN TO HIS WIFE, MABEL, SOON AFTER THE DISCOVERY AND ACQUISITION OF THE ONLY KNOWN SHEET OF PHILATELY'S MOST FAMOUS ERROR. OFFERED TO THE MARKET FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE ITS CREATION.

Presented here is the pendant containing a 24c Inverted Jenny, given by Colonel Edward H. R. Green to his wife, Mabel. The pendant is made of two round pieces of glass with a gold rim and clasp for a chain. Sandwiched between the glass is the Inverted Jenny back to back with a normal 24c stamp. The Inverted Jenny comes from Position 9 in the top row of the original pane of 100. It has a natural straight edge at top. The bottom corners were slightly creased when the stamp was placed in the locket.

The recipient of Colonel Green's largesse was his longtime companion, Mabel E. Harlow, who became Mrs. Green in 1916, only months after the death of Edward's mother, Hetty Green. Hetty Green is still remembered in unkind terms as the "Witch of Wall Street" and the "World's Greatest Miser". There is a Hetty Green Historical Society devoted to the story of her remarkable life. Hetty was descended from the Howland and Robinson families, whose fortunes were made in the 19th century New Bedford whaling industry. Hetty inherited millions of dollars as a young woman and devoted her life to shrewd investing and bare-knuckled negotiations. She became one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Hetty also became infamous for her excessive frugality. It was Hetty's unwillingness to spend money on proper medical treatment that led to the amputation of her teen-age son Edward's left leg. He spent the rest of his life hobbling on a cork prosthetic leg.

When Hetty died at age 81 in June 1916, her estate was variously estimated to be worth between $80 million and $200 million. Hetty's vast assets were divided equally between Edward and his sister, Sylvia. While Sylvia continued her quiet and relatively modest lifestyle, it was Edward, freed from his mother's domination, who went on a massive spending spree. He was also free to marry Mabel Harlow, whom his mother had referred to as "Miss Harlot". Mabel and Edward met in Chicago 24 years earlier when she was practicing her trade as an exotic dancer and prostitute. She left the smitten Edward to marry another man. Some time later, Edward and Mabel reunited in Texas, and he hired the voluptuous redhead to be his "housekeeper" on a more permanent basis.

During the years Edward and Mabel were together, he lavished gifts on her. In fact, the Inverted Jenny locket was a relatively modest gift. When they were together in Texas, the Colonel -- a title granted to him by the governor -- had a custom Pullman railroad car embellished with Mabel's name. Soon after the two married, the Colonel gave Mabel a $50,000 diamond-studded chastity belt. It is unlikely that Mabel wore either the belt or the Locket Copy. When the Greens decided to travel to Florida in 1924, they occupied two private railroad cars to transport the Colonel, his masseuse, valet, chauffeur, stamp and coin secretaries, Mabel and her girl companion, their personal maids and a half-dozen of Edward's so-called "protegees".

The Colonel collected stamps in similarly bold manner. He would acquire entire collections intact, including the J. K. Storrow collection of U.S., which cost $77,500 and would probably be worth millions today. His visits to New York City's Nassau Street stamp district were legendary. He would sit in a chauffeured limousine with his artificial leg propped up. Dealers would bring him their offerings, and he would pay in cash. His stamp and coin collections were organized by a corps of young women who called their affectionate employer "Uncle Ned".

When the Colonel died in 1936, his estate became the focus of multi-state battle over death taxes. Four different states claimed that the Colonel was a resident, a problem created by Green lifetime effort to claim residence in Texas while living in other places. After four million words of testimony and 2,855 exhibits, the Supreme Court ultimately decided in favor of Massachusetts, which received $5,250,000 in taxes. The Colonel left his estate to his sister, Sylvia Wilks, who simply added the $30 million to her non-interest bearing checking account at Chase National. His stamp collection was dispersed in a series of 28 auctions over four years, comprising some 50,000 lots. Mabel filed a claim against the estate, despite the agreement she had signed before marriage, and it was quietly settled. Mabel kept her Inverted Jenny locket and left it to a trusted companion when she died in 1950. In George Amick's book Jenny!, he tells the story of the Locket Copy. Amick was allowed by the owner to photograph it at the Bank of New York.

The 2002 Scott Catalogue value for a C3a is $170,000.00 hinged and $200,000.00. It is unlikely that the gum on this example has ever been hinged, and it appears (without opening the pendant) that the stamp and gum are in excellent condition.

Editor's note: The stamp went unsold in the auction, and was sold privately.
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