One of the best-known inverted colour errors in US postal history, the CIA Invert, sold for $15,000 in a two day stamp sale on June 27-28.
The $1 colonial rushlight stamp is one of the most loved modern stamps in US philately - not necessarily for its inverted black colouring or rarity, but for its fascinating back story...
On July 2, 1979, one sheet of 100 stamps was issued with the main picture printed upside down. On that same day, an on-duty CIA agent was sent on a routine run to the local post office to re-stock the agency's stamp supply.
On realising the error and potential value of what he had bought, the agent conspired with his colleagues to keep one stamp each and sell the remainder of the sheet to a local stamp dealer. The government, also realising their value, then attempted to recover the lost stamps, but was unable to as the agent had bought them legally.
In a rather unkind turn of events, the agent and his colleagues were forced to return the stamps they had kept, with rumours circulating that those who had refused were later fired.
Compared to other error stamps, such as the renowned Inverted Jenny, the $15,000 achieved at auction was a relatively low sum, which may be attributed to CIA Invert's young age. However, if the prices seen by older inverts are anything to go by, this one could prove to be an excellent investment in years to come.
Another modern error, the 1992 25 cent Stock Exchange Bicentennial centre invert, sold for $14,500 at the auction. With only 56 examples of this error available, the sale provided a scant opportunity for collectors to own a true rarity at a great price.
In April this year, a grouping of four of the Stock Exchange Bicentennial sold for $57,500, as one of just two known blocks.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a brilliant collection of investment-grade rarities currently in stock, including this unique example of Canada's finest stamp.