1970 $1 CIA invert stamp makes $14,500

A 1979 $1 CIA invert stamp realised $14,500 at Cherrystone Auctions in New York on January 10.

The famous error has one of the most incredible backstories of any US stamp.

CIA invert Cherrystone

The stamp was discovered by a CIA agent 

It's named for the unusual circumstances surrounding its discovery.

A CIA agent acquired the complete sheet at a post office in McLean, Virginia in 1986, while restocking the agency’s supply.  

The error went unnoticed for a number of days (five stamps from the sheet of 100 were used in this time), but was soon discovered by another agent who recognised its potential value.

He colluded with eight colleagues to replace the errors with regular issue stamps.

They then sold 85 of the stamps on to a dealer named Jacques C Schiff for $25,000, while each kept a single invert for themselves.

When Schiff revealed the origin of the stamps, the CIA launched an investigation and ordered the agents to return their inverts or face the sack.

Four people ended up losing their jobs over the debacle.

Today the issue is one of the most in-demand modern US errors.

It usually sells around the $15,000 mark, a figure that is likely to grow significantly in the future.

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