US Stamps

By Donna Houseman

World Stamp Show and Inverted Jennies top Linn’s stamp stories for 2016

December 10, 2016 09:00 AM

  • This 1918 United States Jenny Invert airmail error stamp, position 58 from the original pane of 100, was hammered down for slightly more than $1.35 million on May 31 during a Robert A. Siegel auction at World Stamp Show-NY 2016 in New York City.
  • The two-story American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., opened its doors to visitors and guests Oct. 29 during its grand opening following years of planning.

By Donna Houseman

It has long been a tradition at Linn’s Stamp News to review the significant events and stories at the end of the year.

The first half of the year 2016 was dominated first by preparation for World Stamp Show-NY 2016, and then by the actual event. The once-in-a-decade international stamp exhibition took place May 28-June 4 at the Javits Center in New York City.

In the April 11 issue of Linn’s, it was announced that a vintage Curtiss Jenny biplane, similar to the plane pictured on the famous 1918 24¢ Inverted Jenny, would be displayed at WSS-NY 2016.

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The highest-graded example to date of the Inverted Jenny error, having received a grade of extra fine-superb 95 from Professional Stamp Experts, was auctioned during the show by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, and Siegel president Scott Trepel pulled out all the stops to promote the stamp, the auction, and the plane. Siegel created an online reference site dedicated to the Inverted Jenny.

When the gavel was brought down by Trepel himself on May 31, the error stamp, position 58 from the original pane of 100, sold for slightly more than $1.35 million, a record realization for any U.S. stamp.

Another example of the Inverted Jenny, the missing example from the block of four known to stamp collectors as the McCoy block, also made news prior to and during WSS-NY 2016.

Keelin O’Neill from Northern Ireland discovered the missing stamp in a box given to him by his grandfather before he died.

The stamp, position 76 from the original pane, had been stolen and missing for more than 60 years and was returned to the rightful owner, the American Philatelic Research Library, during the New York international show.

Linn’s reported in the Dec. 5 issue that the APRL is taking steps to sell the stamp.

Linn’s gave the show extensive coverage in the issues leading up to and during the show. Linn’s World Stamp Show-NY 2016 Special Preview was bundled with the April 18 Linn’s monthly magazine as a preview to the eight-day show.

Linn’s participated in the show with a booth and kept readers and show-goers up to date on daily events with three special editions. Linn’s website and social media sites made certain that readers who could not attend were also kept abreast of news and events from the show floor.

The year was an important year for the stamp hobby in other respects as well.

In the Jan. 18 issue of Linn’s monthly, Washington correspondent Bill McAllister gave readers a glimpse into one of Washington’s secret stamp treasures found inside a huge basement vault at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

McAllister reported, “Ten years after the BEP printed its last postage stamps, it still retains in this vault the original dies as an invaluable legacy of its rich history as one of the world’s premier stamp printers.”

The American Philatelic Society was in the news on several occasions during 2016. The APS board of directors approved a five-year strategic plan for the society; Mick Zais of Columbia, S.C., was elected the society’s president, along with a new board of vice presidents and all new APS directors-at-large; and the society adopted new guidelines for judging philatelic exhibits at APS World Series of Philately national shows. The guidelines were revealed in a new seventh edition of the APS Manual of Philatelic Judging and Exhibiting.

Following years of planning and construction, the APRL celebrated the grand opening of its new two-story home that occupies 19,000 square feet in the American Philatelic Center, part of the former match factory complex in Bellefonte, Pa.

First-day cover collectors were dismayed to learn in 2016 that Washington Stamp Exchange discontinued producing ArtCraft FDCs.

In news concerning the United States Postal Service, the USPS came under fire for the manner in which it handled the sales of imperforate press sheets.

Linn’s Washington correspondent McAllister reported, “Some collectors are accusing the Postal Service of operating in secrecy, keeping the numbers of imperforate sheets — also called no-die-cut sheets — a closely guarded secret until the moment sheets have gone on sale at first-day ceremonies.”

As of this writing, the Postal Service appears to have cut back or discontinued the no-die-cut press sheets program.

In other news surrounding the Postal Service, an Office of Inspector General report accused the USPS of selling stamps to Royal Mail below face value.

Significant auctions were covered in New York correspondent Matthew Healey’s Auction Roundup in Linn’s monthly issue throughout the year.

In addition to the sales of the examples of the Inverted Jenny error during WSS-NY 2016, other auction news included the sale of the William H. Gross collection of Hawaii. Proceeds from this significant sale went to charity.

A previously unrecorded full pane of the United States 1893 $2 Columbian stamp (Scott 242) surfaced in Germany earlier in 2016. The pane was hammered down at public auction Nov. 15 by the Hans Mohrmann firm in Munich, Germany, for €510,000, or about $677,000 with the firm’s 20 percent buyer’s premium.

While the stamp hobby hit many high notes during 2016, a low note was that Allen R. Kane, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, will retire from that position in January 2017.

Under his directorship, stamp collecting has taken center stage at the museum, where previously postal vehicles occupied the spotlight. The most significant of his many achievements as director was the opening of the William H. Gross Gallery.

As we put another year behind us and look forward to the coming year, the Linn’s staff wishes you good health, prosperity, peace, and happy collecting for 2017.