'America's favourite stamp' the Inverted Jenny sells for $300,000

One of the most recognisable stamps in the world sold this morning (December 16) in New York courtesy of Cherrystone auctions.

The stamp is an invert error, because its Curtiss JN-4 ('Jenny') aeroplane design was printed upside down. Invert errors typically occur because stamps with complex designs, involving more than one colour, may require two or more trips through the printing machine.

If a tired worker places the stamps the wrong way round after its initial processing, an invert error is produced, in this case a classic central invert.

The Inverted Jenny's legendary status began almost as soon as the stamp was issued in May, 1918, when William T. Robey purchased an entire error sheet of 100 at the New York Avenue Post Office window in Washington D.C., one day after the stamp was issued on May 14th.

Inverted Jenny
The most popular stamp in America - The Inverted Jenny

Robey had intentionally gone in early to get some of the new batch of stamps, but felt his heart beating slightly faster when he noticed the invert. He paid the $24 for the sheet (the normal stamps were not very popular given that 24c per stamp was seen as too expensive).

All the known examples of the Inverted Jenny can be traced back to Robey's sheet which passed quickly to famous collector Colonel E H R Green, who broke it up into singles and a few blocks. Surprisingly, givenits value as an invstment, six have been lost and many of the others significantly damaged.

So the example on offer in Cherrystone's auction - which is attractively centred, with deep rich colours, full original gum, relatively light hinging and just one small natural paper spot visible only on the reverse was always likely to achieve a six-figure sum. This it did, selling above its estimate for $300,000.


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