I have to admit that I am of mixed minds on the United States Postal Service’s decision to create 100 sheets of reverted Jenny stamps as part of its commemorative issue. On the one hand, it is kind of interesting to have a bit of a treasure hunt, and with some luck, these errors will attract attention to the hobby of stamp collecting. On the other hand, chances are most of the excitement will be among people already into the hobby, and the result has been the production of a scarce variety that will tax the budget and resources of many collectors.
There can be little doubt that if collectors decide they want this variety to fill their collection, they are going to have to hunt the secondary market, and the price will probably be pretty steep.
In the short term, there will be some speculation, and collectors will find themselves wondering if they should pony up the money to score one now, or sit back and hope that a few of these stamps will turn up in the future at a more affordable price; a difficult choice at best.
I really don’t know how the hobby will react. It may be better for most collectors to focus on the “regular stamp” and view the scarce variety as an aberration. Certainly the wrong thing would be to compare this issue with any sort of an error. The commemorative stamps with the Jenny right way up are not an error the way the inverted stamp was, they are an intentional variety created to invoke a treasure hunt mentality among collectors and members of the public.
Here at Canadian Stamp News, it gets the coverage it deserves as news, without a comment or opinion in the story.
The decision to purposely make a scarce stamp is news; it doesn’t matter if you like it or think it is a terrible idea. The fact that the first reported discovery came from a Canadian was just a bit of frosting on the cake, and one that gave it a little more news interest on our side of the border. My take is that it should be catalogued as a variety, and not given a separate catalogue number. That would enable many collectors to pass it over if they wished, without leaving a hole in their album.
Ultimately, for good or for bad, only time will tell. Right now, the almost total lack of coverage among mainstream media seems to imply that this “big story” is a bit of a tempest in a teacup. If this move succeeds in attracting interest in stamp collecting among the general public, then the good outweighs the bad. On the other hand, if this initiative accomplishes little more than creating an artificial rarity, then it is not a good thing. Ultimately it boils down to collectors having to make their own decisions. I have commented before that completeness is a bit of an illusion, since almost nobody can afford one of everything. This may be a case where defining “complete” means ignoring this sort of thing.