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FRESH AND FINE-VERY FINE. A RARE SOUND EXAMPLE OF THE 1918 24-CENT INVERTED "JENNY" ERROR. WITHOUT QUESTION THIS IS THE MOST FAMOUS STAMP IN AMERICAN PHILATELY.
According to Jenny by George Amick (Amos Press, 1986), the original sheet of 100 Inverted "Jenny" stamps was purchased for $24 by William T. Robey at the New York Avenue Branch Post Office window in Washington D.C., on May 14, 1918, one day after the stamp was first placed on sale at the main post office. On May 20, Robey sold his sheet for $15,000 to Eugene Klein, a Philadelphia stamp dealer. Klein had already arranged to sell the sheet to Col. Edward H. R. Green for $20,000. Colonel Green instructed Klein to divide the Inverted "Jenny" sheet into singles and blocks, and to sell all but a few key position blocks.
It is well-known among stamp specialists and professionals that examples of the Inverted "Jenny" come in different grades of freshness and condition. Many of the original 100 stamps were mistreated by collectors during the years, despite the stamps' rarity and value. Colonel Green himself allowed moisture to affect some of the stamps he retained. Other examples have become slightly toned from improper storage and climatic conditions. Hinge removal has caused thins and creases in numerous stamps, and a few have been "lost" to philately -- or nearly so, as in the case of the copy swept up in a vacuum cleaner.
The stamp offered here, Position 36, is exceptionally fresh and very lightly hinged. It was part of the Sidney A. Hessel collection sold by H. R. Harmer (Part 3, November 305, 1976, lot 1075). Hessel, a long-time collector, might have been the first person to acquire this position when the sheet was broken up by Eugene Klein in 1918 (there is no sale record prior to Hessel's ownership). This would explain its exceptionally fresh condition and the presence of a single faint hinge mark. After the Hessel sale, the stamp was owned by Kenneth Wenger, a New Jersey stamp dealer and investor. It eventually became part of the Windsor collection, which was acquired intact by Perry Hansen.
Ex Hessel, Wenger and Windsor. With 1978, 1996 and 2008 P.F. certificates.