Three Jenny Invert errors sell at auction within 10 days

By Matthew Healey and Michael Baadke

Three 1918 Jenny Invert airmail error stamps were offered at auction in mid-May and were snatched up by buyers. From top to bottom, the position 9 Locket Copy, the well-centered position 89 stamp and the never-hinged position 77 stamp.

Three examples of the famous Inverted Jenny, the 1918 24¢ airmail stamp with the biplane in the center printed upside down in error (United States Scott C3a), crossed the auction block over the course of 10 days.

The most notorious one of these is the so-called “Locket Copy,” whose story was told at length by George Amick in a front-page feature in the May 5 issue of Linn’s. It was offered May 15 by H.R. Harmer in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Encased back-to-back with a regular example of the stamp as a keepsake for his wife Mabel by the eccentric Col. E.H.R. Green, the last owner of the full sheet of 100 Jenny Invert stamps, the Locket Copy is position 9 from that sheet. It has a straight edge at top, but is otherwise in relatively good shape, possessing never-hinged gum and “bright fresh colors.”

After spending decades hidden away by Mabel’s heir, the locket was offered at auction for the first time in 2002, but failed to reach its reserve price. It was later sold privately for $90,000 and subsequently traded again for an undisclosed sum.

This time, it brought $212,400, including the 18 percent buyer’s premium charged by H.R. Harmer.

Matthew Bennett International offered U.S. and Canadian stamps on May 12-13 in New York City. The sale, filled with superlative items, was previewed in Linn’s issue of May 12.

As expected, the high realization of the sale went to an unusually well-centered example of the Jenny Invert.

Like many of its kind, the example in the Bennett sale shows some wear and tear: a “small thin spot and light crease,” as well as a slight disturbance of the gum where the stamp was once hinged into an album.

Nevertheless the stamp, position 89 from the original sheet, went for $264,500, including the 15 percent buyer’s premium Bennett adds to all lots.

Another well-centered example of the airmail error was offered by Spink USA in a single-item presentation in New York City on the morning of May 21.

Spink had promoted this stamp, position 77, as “extraordinarily choice” and the finest of five recorded mint never-hinged examples. The stamp was authenticated earlier this year by the Philatelic Foundation, which assigned it a grade of very fine-extremely fine 85.

With a buyer’s premium equal to 20 percent of the bid up to $2,000 and 15 percent for the remaining amount, the stamp sold for $575,100.

Prior to this sale, the position 77 stamp was owned by J.E. Safra, who purchased it two decades ago for $173,000 as part of the 1994 Christie’s auction of the Westport collection.

Published 5/27/2014 6:50 AM