Sale 1260 — 2022 Rarities of the World
Sale Date — Tuesday, 28 June, 2022
Category — 1918 24c Air Post, Inverted "Jenny", Position 94
VERY FINE. A CHOICE BOTTOM SHEET-MARGIN ORIGINAL-GUM EXAMPLE OF THE 1918
24-CENT INVERTED "JENNY" ERROR--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. Another was nearly lost to philately forever when it was swept up in a vacuum cleaner.
We do not have a complete sale/ownership history for Position 94. Our first record is the 1960 Harmer, Rooke & Co. New York auction of the late T. Charlton Henry, who died in 1936 and likely acquired the stamp when the sheet was first broken. At the Henry sale, Position 94 was purchased by Erwin Griswold, who would become Solicitor-General of the United States in the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and served for 21 years as the dean of Harvard Law School. It was purchased in the 1979 H. R. Harmer "Eastern" sale (pseudonym for Griswold) by stamp dealer James Torelli, who was killed on January 16, 1980, in a head-on collision with a drunk driver who was driving in the wrong direction on the Hutchinson River Parkway. The stamp was sold to the late Melvin L. Getlan, and it is now offered on behalf of the trust.
Ex Colonel Edward H. R. Green, T. Charlton Henry and Erwin N. Griswold. With 2022 P.F. certificate