Earlier this week, one of America’s most iconic stamp errors—the Inverted Jenny—crossed the block for $295,000 USD (about $404,575 Cdn).
The stamp, Position 76 of the original sheet of 100 Jenny Invert errors, was stolen as part of a block of four during an American Philatelic Society (APS) exhibition in Norfolk, Virginia in 1955. The block was owned by Ethel McCoy, who later willed the missing stamps to the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL). At some point, the four stamps were separated from one another, and this example (Position 76) was re-perforated at the top as well as the left.
Two of the stolen stamps were recovered in the 1970s. One of these examples—Position 75—was sold in 1981, only months after McCoy’s death. The other example, Position 65, was kept by the APS, which frequently exhibits the famed piece.
The third recovered stamp, and the example sold on May 11 as part of Siegel Sale No. 1157, was discovered in 2015 by Keelin O’Neill, of Northern Ireland, among items left to him by his late grandfather.
According to the lot’s accompanying 2016 American Philatelic Expertizing Service certificate, the stamp has original gum and was previously hinged. A 2016 Philatelic Foundation certificate also accompanied the lot.
One of the McCoy block of four stolen Inverted Jenny stamps, Position 66, has never been found.
The 2017 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers lists an unused Jenny Invert with a value of $450,000 USD.
PROCEEDS TO GO TO NEW APRL FACILITY
Proceeds from the May 11 sale will go to the APRL’s new facility at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Penn.
“Our new library spans 19,000 square feet and is open to the public five days a week. The library has the world’s largest and most accessible collection of philatelic literature, with rarities dating back to the early days of collecting in the 1860s,” wrote APRL President Roger Brody in the auction catalogue, which also includes a fascinating account of the missing McCoy block by philatelic researcher and expert Ken Lawrence. “Our collection of more than 80,000 volumes and special collections devoted to stamp collecting and the study of postage stamps and mail services occupies more than 3 miles of shelf space. It is truly a fitting home to this great wealth of philatelic knowledge.”
SIX SALES, FOUR DAYS
The single-lot sale was one of six auctions hosted by New York City’s Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries between May 9-12. Aside from the May 11 sale of the Position 76 Jenny Invert, Siegel offered:
- the Deane R. Briggs collection of Florida in the Civil War on May 9;
- the U.S. and Confederate States postal history on May 9-10;
- the Steven Walske collection of North American blockade run mail and French royal packet mail on May 10;
- U.S. stamps on May 11-12; and
- the Vaquero collection of U.S. essays and proofs onMay 12.
For more information, visit siegelauctions.com.