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home Rare Stamp Price Guide

1875 90¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #132 carmine and black)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1875 1¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #123 buff)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1875 30¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #131 ultramarine and carmine)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1893 4¢ Columbian (USA Scott #233a blue)

This is the major error of the Columbian Set. The incorrect ink was used in the production of only 200 of the stamps. The “4¢ Blue” is a prized rarity.

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1875 12¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #128 green)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1875 3¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #125 blue)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1875 15¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #129 brown and blue)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1875 10¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #127 yellow)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1875 24¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #130 green and violet)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1893 30¢ Columbian (USA Scott #239 orange brown)

The American Bank Note Company printed this stamp, with over two billion being made.

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1875 6¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #126 blue)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.

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1851 1¢ Franklin (USA Scott #7 blue type II)

The most common of the 1c blues. Same as Type I at top, but the little balls of the bottom scrolls and the bottoms of the lower plume ornaments are missing. The side ornaments are substantially complete.

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1918 24¢ Curtiss Jenny (USA Scott #C3a carmine rose and blue center inverted)

The Inverted Jenny (also known as an Upside Down Jenny or Jenny Invert) is a United States postage stamp first issued on May 10, 1918 in which the image of the Curtiss JN-4 airplane in the center of the design was accidentally printed upside-down; it is probably the most famous error in American philately. Only one pane of 100 of the invert stamps was ever found, making this error  one of the most prized in all philately. A center-line block catalogs for $600,000, which is probably low; a single inverted Jenny was sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction in November 2007 for US $977,500.  In December 2007 a mint never hinged example was sold for $825,000. The broker of the sale said the buyer was a Wall Street executive who lost the auction the previous month.  A block of four inverted Jennys was sold at a Robert A. Siegel auction in October 2005 for US $2.7 million.

Background
During the 1910s, the United States Post Office had made a number of experimental trials of carrying mail by air, and decided to inaugurate regular service on May 15, 1918, flying between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. The Post Office set a controversial rate of 24 cents for the service, much higher than the 3 cents for first-class mail of the time, and decided to issue a new stamp just for this rate, patriotically printed in red and blue, and depicting a Curtiss Jenny, the biplane chosen to shuttle the mail.

The job of designing and printing the new stamp was carried out in a great rush; engraving only began on May 4, and stamp printing on May 10 (a Friday), in sheets of 100 (contrary to the usual practice of printing 400 at a time and cutting into 100-stamp panes). Since the stamp was printed in two colors, each sheet had to be fed through the printing press twice, an error-prone process that had resulted in invert errors in stamps of 1869 and 1901, and at least three misprinted sheets were found during the production process and were destroyed. It is believed that only one misprinted sheet of 100 stamps got through unnoticed, and stamp collectors have spent the ensuing years trying to find them all.

Initial deliveries went to post offices on Monday, May 13. Aware of the potential for inverts, a number of collectors went to their local post offices to buy the new stamps and keep an eye out for errors. Collector W. T. Robey was one of those; he had written to a friend on May 10 mentioning that "it would pay to be on the lookout for inverts". On May 14, Robey went to the post office to buy the new stamps, and as he wrote later, when the clerk brought out a sheet of inverts, "my heart stood still". He paid for the sheet, and asked to see more, but the remainder of the sheets were normal.

Additional details of the day's events are not entirely certain—Robey gave three different accounts later—but he began to contact both stamp dealers and journalists, to tell them of his find. After a week that included visits from postal inspectors who tried to buy it back, and the hiding of the sheet under his mattress, Robey sold the sheet to noted Philadelphia dealer Eugene Klein for US$15,000. Klein then immediately resold the sheet to "Colonel" H. R. Green, son of Hetty Green, for US$20,000.

Klein advised Green that the stamps would be worth more separately than as a single sheet, and Green went along; the sheet was broken into a block of eight, several blocks of four, with the remainder sold as individuals. Green kept a number of the inverts, including one that was placed in a locket for his wife. This locket was offered for sale for the first time ever by the Siegel Auction Galleries Rarity Sale, held on May 18, 2002. It did not sell in the auction, but the philatelic press reported that a Private Treaty sale was arranged later for an unknown price.

It is believed that seven of the stamps have been lost or destroyed through theft or mishandling. Several others have been damaged, including one that was sucked into a vacuum cleaner. Apparently Green's wife mailed one which, while recovered, is the only cancelled sample.

A famous stamp
Aside from having the biplane printed upside down, the inverted Jenny has become famous for other reasons as well. Benjamin K. Miller, one of the early buyers of these inverts, 100 in all, bought the stamp for $250. Miller's inverted Jenny was stolen in 1977 but was recovered in the early 1980s though the top perforations were trimmed to disguise it from being recognized as the stolen Miller stamp. However, that stolen and missing stamp served to drive the value of the other 99 examples even higher. That inverted Jenny was the main attraction in the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 'Rarity Revealed' exhibition, 2007-2009. The "Inverted Jenny" was the most requested postage stamp for viewing by visitors at the museum.

A rare swap
In late October 2005 the unique plate number block of four stamps was purchased by a then anonymous buyer for $2,970,000. The purchaser was revealed to be U.S. financier Bill Gross. Shortly after purchasing the Inverted Jennys he proceeded to trade them with Donald Sundman, president of the Mystic Stamp Company, a stamp dealer, for one of only two known examples of the USA 1c Z Grill. By completing this trade, Gross became the owner of the only complete collection of U.S. 19th century stamps.

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1856 1¢ British Guiana Scott #13 magenta)

The unique British Guiana 1856 One-Cent, Black on Magenta Surface-Colored Paper (Stanley Gibbons no.23, Scott no.13). The British Guiana 1c magenta is regarded by many philatelists as the world's most famous stamp. It was issued in limited numbers in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1856, and only one specimen is now known to exist.

It is imperforate, printed in black on magenta paper, and features a sailing ship along with the colony's Latin motto "Damus Petimus Que Vicissim" (We give and expect in return) in the middle. Four thin lines frame the ship. The stamp's country of issue and value in small black upper case lettering in turn surround the frame.

Initialled EDW, cut octagonally clear of design, April 4 1856 DEMERARA circular datestamp.  The Certificate issued by the Royal Philatelic Society in March 2014 records that the stamp is genuine and notes “surface rubbing reduced by over-painting at some time in the past – possibly while the stamp resided in the Ferrari collection.”

The unique example, unpriced in Gibbons and Scott.

29 x 26 mm (1 5/32 x 1 1/32 in.)

expertization:
The stamp is accompanied by two "Genuine" certificates issued by the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society, London: Certificate No. 18,796 (17 October 1935), signed by Thomas William Hall, and Certificate No. 217,796 (17 March 2014), signed by Christopher Harman.

The stamp was also examined by Thomas Lera, the Winton S. Blount Research Chair of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, on 17 April 2014, and several photographs taken by Mr. Lera are reproduced in the catalogue.

provenance:
Andrew Hunter (1856–1873), original recipient of the mailed stamp;
Louis Vernon Vaughan (1873);
Neil Ross McKinnon (1873–1878);
Thomas Ridpath (1878);
Philipp de la Rénotière von Ferrary (1878–1920; purple trefoil on reverse);
Government of France (1920–1922);
Arthur M. Hind (1922–1933; manuscript “H” on reverse; cloverleaf "AH" handstamp on reverse);
Ann Hind Scala (1933–1940; perhaps a seventeen-point star handstamp on reverse used to obscure the cloverleaf of her husband);
Frederick Trouton Small (1940–1970; comet handstamp on reverse; also initialed in pencil “FK” by his agent Finbar Kenny);
Irwin Weinberg and Associates (1970–1980; pencil “IW” on reverse);
John E. du Pont (1980–2014; pencil “JEdP” on reverse)

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1875 2¢ Pictorial (USA Scott #124 brown)

Re-issue of 1869 issue. Without grill, hard white paper, with white crackly gum.
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