EXTREMELY FINE. A PHENOMENAL MINT NEVER-HINGED EXAMPLE OF THE FAMOUS 1918 24-CENT INVERTED “JENNY” ERROR. THIS REMARKABLE STAMP—IN POST-OFFICE MINT CONDITION WITH WIDE MARGINS, EXCEPTIONAL FRESHNESS AND GRADED VF-XF 85 BY THE PHILATELIC FOUNDATION—IS WITHOUT QUESTION ONE OF THE FINEST EXAMPLES IN EXISTENCE.
The original sheet of one hundred Inverted Jenny errors was purchased by William T. Robey on May 14, 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. On Sunday, May 19, Robey agreed to give Eugene Klein, a prominent Philadelphia stamp dealer, a one-day option to buy the sheet for $15,000. Klein exercised his option on Monday, May 20, in a late afternoon phone call, and he confirmed it with a registered letter to Robey sent in the evening mail. The sheet was delivered to Klein’s office by Robey and his father-in-law on the following day, Tuesday, May 21, 1918.
No later than Monday, May 20, the day Klein exercised his option, he had arranged to sell the sheet for $20,000 to Colonel Edward H. R. Green. Half of the $5,000 profit went to Klein’s partners, Percy McGraw Mann and Joseph A. Steinmetz. Klein was then authorized by Colonel Green to divide the sheet into singles and blocks, and to sell all but a few key position blocks.
Despite the great rarity and value of Inverted Jenny stamps, 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. Another was nearly lost to philately forever when it was swept up in a vacuum cleaner.
Our records contain five stamps that are certified Mint N.H. and one described as Mint N.H. when last sold decades ago. In order of grade, they are as follows:
1) Position 49, graded XF-90 (PF), Siegel Sale 1192, November 15, 2018, lot 644, $1,350,000 hammer
2) Position 77, graded VF-XF 85 (PF), the stamp offered here
3) Position 68, graded VF 80 (PSE), Siegel Sale 1052, October 9, 2013, lot 6, $500,000 hammer
4) Position 84, graded F-VF 75 (PSE), Siegel Sale 904, December 10, 2005, lot 499, $280,000 hammer, sold privately in 2007 for $825,000
5) Position 29, last sold in 1969 by Raymond and Roger Weill, never certified, private collection
6) Position 9, straight edge at top, the Locket copy, Siegel Sale 846, May 18, 2002, lot 2341
The stamp offered here -- Position 77 -- was sold in a 1959 John A. Fox auction on behalf of Frederick H. Douglas of Rumson New Jersey, where it was purchased by the Weills of New Orleans, acting as agent for a southern physician, Dr. J. A. Graves. Dr. Graves held the stamp for 23 years. It was next sold in 1982 in a Siegel sale on behalf of Dr. Graves, where it was purchased by another Weill client, Dr. Charles E. Test, for $198,000, a then-record price for a U.S. stamp. The stamp remained with Dr. Test until his 20th century stamps were sold by Christie's New York in 1994, where it was purchased by billionaire banker Edmond J. Safra for $173,000. Edmond Safra passed away under mysterious circumstances in 1999. The stamp was held by his family until 2014, when it was sold at Spink USA to the current owner.
With 2014 P.F. certificate (519955) stating IT IS GENUINE, NEVER HINGED. PF GRADED VF-XF 85
2021 Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue Value $850,000.00
For the complete history and detailed records of every Inverted Jenny and owners’ biographies, go to https://invertedjenny.com