EXTREMELY FINE CENTERING. THE 1918 24-CENT INVERTED "JENNY" ERROR IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE MOST FAMOUS STAMP IN AMERICAN PHILATELY.
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. This example was nearly lost to philately forever when it was swept up in a vacuum cleaner.
The stamp offered here, Position 78, was at one time part of the Southgate, Fisher and "Ambassador" collections. In 1973 the Weills of New Orleans placed the stamp with Hermann Schnabel of Germany, making this the second copy owned by him. It was subsequently offered at auction in Germany later in 1973, and again in 1985 at Christie's for the same consignor. The Christie's sale marked the first of 64 different Inverted Jenny stamps (and counting) handled by Scott Trepel over his career, and it was also the first time the stamp appeared in a one-lot dedicated auction catalogue. It was acquired by Robert E. Zoellner and became a key element of his complete collection of United States stamps with major Scott Catalogue numbers. During his ownership, the Jenny came out of a defective mount in his Scott Platinum album, fell onto the floor and was sucked up in a vacuum cleaner. Luckily, Mr. Zoellner realized what had happened and the stamp was recovered from the vacuum bag. Position 78 was expertly repaired, restoring its appearance, and Mr. Zoellner replaced the stamp with the sound and Extremely Fine Position 58 (which is now graded XF-Superb 95 and realized $1,351,250 in Siegel Sale 1128 at World Stamp Show-NY 2016 -- a world-record price at the time).
Ex Colonel Edward H. R. Green, Southgate, Fisher, "Ambassador", Schnabel and Zoellner. With 2009 P.F. certificate stating "it is genuine, previously hinged, with creases and repaired tears".
For the complete history and detailed records of every Inverted Jenny and owners’ biographies, go to https://invertedjenny.com