CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Rita Braver revealed in her Jan. 18 story about stamp collecting that PIMCO investment firm founder and philanthropist William H. Gross was the purchaser of the upright $2 Jenny Invert pane discovered last year by David and Gail Robinson and sold at auction in June 2014 for more than $51,000.
Linn’s announced in a page 1 story in the Feb. 2 issue that CBS Sunday Morning would highlight the hobby of stamp collecting Jan. 18 in a segment by Braver.
She hinted to Linn’s that her report might reveal breaking stamp news, but at the time, she wouldn’t give away her scoop.
Braver didn’t disappoint collectors and viewers.
During an interview with Gross, Braver revealed that he was the buyer of the Robinsons’ upright Jenny Invert pane at the June 26 Rarities of the World sale by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York.
The Robinsons, of Richmond, Va., bought the stamps at the Blackstone, Va., post office. The $2 Jenny Invert stamps are printed in panes of six, and in all, the Robinsons bought more than 3,000 panes of the normal stamp showing the plane flying upside down, finally locating one example that had the plane flying right side up.
The United States Postal Service created 100 of these intentional varieties, and then seeded them into the print run of 2.2 million panes issued Sept. 22, 2013.
Linn’s reported the Robinsons’ discovery of the upright Jenny Invert pane in the June 2, 2014, issue, page 14.
The Robinsons consigned their find to the Siegel auction.
Braver interviewed both David Robinson and Gross during the seven-minute segment.
“I beat the odds,” Robinson told Braver, after the two of them together opened a few of the sealed packages in which the Jenny Inverts are sold at post offices.
Lightning, however, did not strike twice, and the packages they opened all contained the standard variety with the plane flying upside down.
The CBS Sunday Morning segment began by showing David Robinson piloting a group of Richmond tourists in a canal boat.
Braver commented, “Captain David Robinson not only loves piloting his tour boat down the waterways of Richmond. He also loves all things Virginia — especially his stamps.”
She continued, “He first started collecting at the age of 10 … He’s been collecting ever since, and recently he made his biggest find.”
The “biggest find” Braver referred to was when the Robinsons discovered the upright Jenny Inverts among 14 panes purchased from stock in the Blackstone post office.
Gross, on the other hand, “acknowledges spending more than $100 million on his hobby over the years,” Braver reported.
Gross is known for having completed a collection of every 19th-century U.S. stamp, and also for donating $8 million to the National Postal Museum so the museum could construct its new public stamp gallery, which is named the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery.
After showing the 1868 1¢ blue Z grill (Scott 85A), the key rarity that Gross obtained to complete his 19th-century collection, Braver revealed that Gross was the successful bidder for the Jenny Invert pane found by the Robinsons.
“Did I know what it was worth? Absolutely not,” Gross said with a smile. “I simply knew that maybe at some point it could be worth $100,000.”
Linn’s reported in the July 14, 2014, issue that the stamp pane sold for $51,750 in the June 26 auction, including a 15 percent buyer’s premium.
Braver also traveled to Washington, D.C., where she interviewed Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, and in his office at the Postal Service headquarters at L’Enfant Plaza.
She observed, “There are still die-hard collectors — and some budding ones. But it’s clear the hobby has lost a bit of its luster, which seems a shame to Patrick Donahoe, Postmaster General of the United States.”
In the interview, Donahoe said, “I think American stamps tell the story of the American experience.”
Together, they admired a press sheet of the 1993 29¢ Elvis Presley stamp (Scott 2721) securely stored in the museum’s stamp display frames.
Linn’s Stamp News also made an appearance in the program, which can be viewed online at www.cbsnews.com/news/the-ageless-allure-of-stamp-collecting.
The front page of the June 2, 2014, Linn’s carrying the story of the Robinson's find of the upright Jenny Invert pane was featured prominently in the television segment and the online video. It can be seen starting at the two-minute, 40-second point of the seven-minute, 25-second feature.
At the end of the segment, Robinson proclaimed, “We’re famous! Gail and I are written into philatelic history now. Our picture was on the front page of Linn’s Stamp News.”
LINN'S STAMP NEWS COVERAGE OF CBS SUNDAY MORNING STAMP AND THE ROBINSON PANE: