Friday, February 13, 2015

Inverted Jenny

In 1918 the U.S. Postal Service issued a 24-cent air mail stamp that soon became world famous. It was supposed to be used on letters carried between Washington D.C. and New York City by airplane.  Air mail was a brand new service back then, as airplanes had only been around for a few years.

Soon after the air mail stamps went on sale, a collector named William Robey went to his local post office and bought a whole sheet of 100 of them. (Some people actually collect stamps as a hobby. M says he used to when he was a kid.) Right away Mr. Robey noticed something strange about his stamps. They all looked just like these:

The airplanes in the center were printed upside-down! Robey asked the postal clerk if he had any more sheets of the stamps, and when the clerk saw the misprints, he tried to get them back. But Robey told him tough noogies, finders keepers, and left the post office. He soon sold his "Inverted Jenny" stamps to another collector and used the money (which was way more than the $24 he paid) to buy a house.

No more of the misprinted stamps ever surfaced, and whenever one of them comes up for sale, it always goes for hundred of thousands of dollars. By the way, the reason the stamps were called the Inverted Jenny is that the Curtiss JN-4 biplane in the picture was nicknamed a Jenny. (For JN, get it?) There's a good article on this topic, including a recent reissue of the stamps, in The New York Times. To read it online, follow this link.

It would be nice to have one of those original hundred Inverted Jenny stamps. But you know what? Our family has some that are very similar to the airplane ones, and they're even more valuable, because they feature a real, live Jenny, and we wouldn't trade her for anything!

Among our Inverted Jenny treasures are this one:

And this one:

And this one:

And before I forget, to the upside-down lady in the center of each of those priceless stamps, I'd just like to say:


Inverted Jenny said...

That's awesome! There was actually a story about the Inverted Jenny stamps on CBS Sunday Morning a month or so ago. You can now buy some version of the stamp--the not-as-expensive one, and I wrote down "Inverted Jenny" so I could Google it down the road and get some. But these Inverted Jennys here are even better.

Anonymous said...

Clever birthday post, Buddy! You’ve mastered some pretty tricky composition skills during your blogging career. Keep up the good work!