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EXTREMELY FINE GEM. THIS MAGNIFICENT EXAMPLE OF THE 1918 24-CENT INVERTED JENNY IS GRADED XF-SUPERB 95 BY PROFESSIONAL STAMP EXPERTS. THIS STAMP HAS ALWAYS BEEN REGARDED AS ONE OF THE FINEST FROM THE ORIGINAL DISCOVERY SHEET OF 100. IT IS THE ONLY INVERTED JENNY TO HAVE MET THE RIGOROUS STANDARDS FOR THE XF-SUPERB 95 GRADE.
The original sheet of one hundred Inverted Jenny errors was purchased by William T. Robey on 14 May 1918, the first day the stamps went on sale in all three principal airmail route cities: Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. Robey bought the sheet for its $24 face value at the New York Avenue Post Office window in the District of Columbia. Soon after, the sheet was sold to Colonel Edward H. R. Green through Eugene Klein, a Philadelphia stamp dealer. Green paid $20,000 for Robey’s sheet, then instructed Klein to divide it into singles and blocks, and to sell all but a few key position blocks.
It is possible to reconstruct the Inverted Jenny sheet with photographs of the singles and blocks (see the reconstruction on page 62). Based on centering alone, most would grade 70 or 75. Only a few stamps could possibly qualify for a Professional Stamp Experts (P.S.E.) grade of VF 80 or better. In our opinion, the centering of the stamp to the right of this one--Position 59--should qualify it for XF-Superb 95, but no others could achieve 95 (or better).
Condition is another factor limiting the grade potential of Inverted Jenny stamps. Despite their great rarity and value, many of the original hundred have been mistreated by collectors over the years. Colonel Green himself allowed moisture to affect some of the stamps he retained. Eight straight-edge copies that Klein was unable to sell and returned to Colonel Green were found in Green’s estate stuck together in an envelope (they were soaked and lost their gum). Other examples have become slightly toned from improper storage and climatic conditions. Hinge removal has caused thins and creases in numerous stamps, and one was physically Scotch-taped to an exhibit page. A couple still remain unphotographed, and one was nearly lost to philately forever when it was swept up in a vacuum cleaner. Finally, with the discovery of a third stamp from the stolen McCoy block--recognized by The Philatelic Foundation’s expert staff when it was submitted by an auction firm--only one purloined Inverted Jenny remains at large.
The stamp offered here, Position 58, is remarkable for its pristine state of preservation and for its centering. It was originally the lower right stamp in a block of four, comprising Positions 47-48/57-58, which was owned by Eugene Klein, the dealer who bought the sheet from Robey. It was inherited by Klein’s daughter, Delores Klein Hertz, who sold it to Robert A. Siegel. Mr. Siegel sold the block to Raymond H. Weill, who placed it with Benjamin D. Phillips in July 1959. The Weills bought the Phillips collection in 1968 for $4.07 million and sold the block to another collector. According to Raymond Weill, he was asked to divide the block into singles for four different heirs. Position 58 was sold to a Mr. Hoover in 1975, who sold it at auction in 1985 to West Coast collector Bruce McNall. Mr. McNall partly paid for it with an exchange for Position 3.
After Robert Zoellner’s first Inverted Jenny fell out of his Scott Platinum album and was sucked up by a vacuum cleaner, he replaced the wounded copy with this stamp, which he purchased in the Superior Stamp & Coin auction of McNall’s collection. In our sale of the Zoellner collection (Sale 804), the stamp realized $192,500 (including the 10% buyer’s premium), selling to a private collector. When our firm was asked to offer it in the 2005 Rarities of the World sale (Sale 895), we obtained a P.S.E. certificate with a grade of XF-Superb 95. The stamp shattered the previous record for a single, realizing $577,500 (including the 10% buyer’s premium). It is now offered on behalf of the buyer.
Ex Colonel E. H. R. Green, Eugene Klein, Delores Klein Hertz, B. D. Phillips, Weill (to an anonymous collector), Hoover (according to Weill), McNall, Zoellner (to anonymous collector), anonymous collector to the current owner at Siegel 2005 Rarities of the World sale (Sale 895, lot 374).
With 2005 P.S.E. certificate (graded OGph XF-Superb 95; see photo on page 61) and encapsulated since 2005. The next highest grade in the P.S.E. Population Report is VF-XF 85.
Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue value for the highest grade listed (VF-XF 85) is $525,000
P.S.E. Stamp Market Quarterly value for XF-Superb 95 is $1,600,000