June 27 Siegel Rarities sale features 2013 upright Jenny Invert pane

Jun 20, 2023, 8 AM

By Charles Snee

Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries’ June 27 Rarities of the World sale brings together a choice selection of almost 300 lots of United States and worldwide stamps and postal history that are among the finest of their kind.

The auction will be held in two sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time at Siegel’s headquarters on W. 38th St. in Manhattan in New York City.

One of the more recent offerings is a scarce U.S. 2013 $2 upright Jenny Invert pane of six (Scott 4806d).

Siegel conducted its first Rarities sale in February 1964. One of the iconic items in that auction was the centerline block of four of the 1918 24¢ airmail stamp with the blue vignette of the Curtiss Jenny biplane upside down within the carmine rose frame (Scott C3a). This renowned error is known around the world as the Jenny Invert.

Pictured on the cover of the 1964 Rarities catalog, the Jenny Invert centerline block sold for $67,000. Today it is valued at $2.1 million in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.

In 2013, in celebration of the 95th anniversary of the 1918 discovery of the Jenny Invert, the U.S. Postal Service issued a self-adhesive pane of six $2 stamps (Scott 4806) featuring the famous error and printed from engraved plates made from the original dies used to produce the 1918 24¢ airmail stamp (C3).

Shortly after the $2 Jenny Invert was issued, it was revealed that the USPS had intentionally printed 100 panes showing the biplane flying right side up (Scott 4806d).

Like the 2.2 million normal $2 stamps that show the plane flying upside down, the rare upright variety panes were hidden within sealed blind packaging that, from the outside, cannot be distinguished from the regular issue.

The variety panes were then mixed in with the normal stamps distributed to post offices around the country. Stamp customers who discovered the variety in their purchases have found they can make a substantial profit selling the pane at auction or to a stamp dealer or collector.

Linn’s reported in early 2015 that three of the upright panes were sent to customers who had not ordered the panes, a violation of USPS policy prohibiting gifts of stamps.

It was disclosed in July 2015 that because of confusion and controversy the Stamp Fulfillment Services center in Kansas City, Mo., never completed its planned distribution of all 100 upright panes.

The 100 upright variety panes were packaged with a card printed with a phone number the finder could call to receive a certificate signed by the U.S. postmaster general, and to register the purchase and discovery. Because the registration is voluntary, it is presumed that some of the found panes were never recorded.

The certificate accompanying the upright Jenny Invert pane in the Siegel sale, signed by then Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, states that the pane was the fourth reported to the Postal Service.

As of late December 2022, Linn’s tally of the upright Jenny Invert variety stands at 43 panes, with 40 of those panes reported to the Postal Service.

Siegel lists this upright Jenny Invert pane, which also comes with a 2014 certificate from the American Philatelic Expertizing Service, at the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog value of $70,000.

The nation’s first regular-issue postage stamps, the 5¢ Benjamin Franklin and 10¢ George Washington of 1847 (Scott 1-2), are represented by 13 lots in the sale.

A showpiece of that group is an unused horizontal strip of four of the 10¢ Washington with original gum described by Siegel as an “exceptional rarity.”

The strip comes from positions 92-95 in the left pane of 100 printed from plate 1, which collectors abbreviate 92-95L1. The 1847 stamps were printed in sheets of 200 that were divided into two panes of 100.

Siegel notes that the stamp in position 93 is in mint, never-hinged condition and slightly affected by a diagonal crease at the bottom of the position 92 stamp that just touches this stamp.

Siegel’s description of the strip provides a capsule summary of the scarcity of the 1847 stamps in unused condition:

“The 1847 Issue is much scarcer in unused condition than other issues, because the stamps were demonetized in 1851. They could be exchanged for the new issue, but once the exchange period ended, the stamps would have no postage value. Considering the purchasing power of ten cents in 1851, it is not surprising that the stamps were either used or exchanged, rather than left for future generations of collectors. Unused multiples larger than a pair are extremely rare.”

The unused strip of four also appeared in Siegel’s 1974 and 1987 Rarities sales. In the latter auction, it sold for $49,500 including the 10 percent buyer’s premium.

Siegel is offering this remarkable strip of four of the 1847 10¢ Washington with an estimate of $75,000 to $100,000.

The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog does not value a strip of four of the 1847 10¢ stamp, but an unused strip of three is valued at $125,000.

Potential bidders are advised that Siegel has withdrawn lot 676 in advance of the sale, pending further analysis by experts and a final listing determination by the Scott catalog editors. The lot in question is a used U.S. 2¢ rose type I Washington with perforations that gauge 10 by 11.

Full details of the Rarities of the World sale, including a downloadable version of the catalog and online bidding options, are available on the Siegel website.

For additional information contact Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries, 21 W. 38th St., Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10018.

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