First upright Jenny Invert pane to be sold blows away editor’s market speculation

Jul 11, 2014, 11 AM

When it became known that the United States Postal Service had intentionally printed 100 $2 Jenny Invert panes of six with the plane flying upright, I and others began speculating about potential market value.

To put it mildly, my initial guess of about $300 turned out to be spectacularly wrong. It’s a good thing I stay away from gambling and other games of chance.

During its June 26 Rarities of the World sale, Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries sold an intact upright Jenny Invert pane for an eye-popping $51,750.

That spectacular realization includes a 15 percent buyer’s premium.

The finders of this particular pane, David and Gail Robinson of Virginia, purchased more than 3,000 of the Jenny Invert panes, hoping to land one of the elusive varieties. Their pane is the 18th to be found and the 11th to be certified by the Postal Service.

Meanwhile, the search continues for the 82 upright panes that remain to be discovered and/or reported. It’s a good bet (or is it?) that additional panes have been found, but the owners are unwilling to come forward and announce their finds.

The result from the June 26 Siegel sale might convince others to tell the larger philatelic world about their discovery.

Of course, it’s possible that as additional upright Jenny Invert panes are sold, individual realizations will fall below that of the first pane sold.

If you are one of the lucky owners of an upright pane, now might be a good time to consider selling it.

Each upright pane discovered comes with its own story. And collectors often enjoy the story behind the stamp as much as the stamp itself. This is one reason why the original 1918 24¢ Jenny Invert airmail error stamp attracts wide attention each time an example is sold.

Given that the 2013 Jenny Invert pane has been on sale for about 10 months now, it seems reasonable that more of the upright panes should have been found by now.

A tally of just 18 panes thus far suggests that sales of the Jenny Invert pane have not met the expectations of the Postal Service.

In November 2013, Linn’s filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Postal Service. In that request, we asked for Jenny Invert pane sales figures for the first 30 days after the pane was issued Sept. 22, 2013.

Our initial request was denied in December 2013, and we appealed our request the following month.

As of this writing, the Postal Service is still working on the appeal.

In a letter to our office dated March 27, Christopher Klepac, Postal Service chief counsel for federal requirements, writes: “Please accept my apology for the delays you have experienced with this request; we very much regret the amount of time this is taking.”

As do we.

In the meantime, we wonder if the $2 Jenny Invert pane will remain on sale for more than one year, the traditional sales period for a commemorative issue. All the evidence we have at hand thus far would support keeping the issue on sale for more than a year.

Regardless of the sales period, the $2 Jenny Invert has been good for the hobby.

If you haven’t purchased a pane, consider doing so. You might get lucky, and we can tell your story.