The United States Postal Service has provided three lucky collectors with one pane each of the upright $2 Jenny Invert stamp, a variety intentionally created by the Postal Service that has proven to be worth many thousands of dollars.
However, the giving has come to an end, and a Postal Service spokesman recently told Linn’s Stamp News that the stamp giveaway was not fully approved.
Linn’s editor Charles Snee reported in the Jan. 19 issue that a collector in the Atlanta, Ga., area unexpectedly received one of the 100 upright Jenny Invert stamp panes in the mail, accompanied by a congratulatory letter from USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services manager Khalid Hussain explaining that as a USPS mail-order customer, the collector was selected at random to receive the pane free of charge.
Since that report was published, Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders told Snee that two other collectors were similarly mailed one of the variety stamp panes at random.
As of Jan. 8, only one collector, the Atlanta-area collector mentioned in Snee’s story, had reported his gift sheet to the Postal Service, as Hussain’s letter requested, Saunders noted.
Saunders described the giveaway process as “an innovative idea to raise awareness of the approximately 80 remaining un-inverted Jenny stamp sheets,” and called it “a well-intentioned initiative on the part of Khalid.”
However, he added that the plan was not properly vetted through the organization, and “it would not have been approved as there are legal constraints associated with distributing stamps free of charge.”
But apparently there will be no effort made by the Postal Service to reclaim the panes.
Saunders told Linn’s, “we wish the three recipients of the un-inverted stamp sheets the best as they add these items to their stamp collections.”
The Postal Service revealed in late 2013 that it had created 100 panes of the $2 Jenny Invert stamp with the plane flying right side up in the vignette, and randomly distributed those variety panes throughout the full press run, to be distributed in blind packaging at Stamp Fulfillment Services and in post offices across the country.
Since then, prior to the report in late December from the Atlanta-area collector, 20 collectors had reported finding one of the variety panes, according to a census maintained by Linn’s.
The information from Saunders suggests that 23 panes have now been found, leaving 77 in Postal Service facilities, still to be discovered.
The stamp panes appear to be trading infrequently, but they are selling for far more than their $12 face value.
Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries sold an intact upright Jenny Invert pane for $51,750 at its June 26, 2014, Rarities of the World sale. The Sept. 15, 2014, Linn’s reported that stamp dealer Henry Gitner sold a pane of the upright variety for $55,000.
Although the Postal Service has randomly distributed most of the variety panes in its massive stamp inventory, there was no word of how the three panes recently given away, reportedly sealed in blind packaging, were identified as the valuable variety before they were mailed away to the lucky recipients.