Washington Postal Scene — By Bill McAllister
The United States Postal Service has said it has distributed all of the 100 upright $2 Jenny Invert stamp panes it created as a promotional scheme in 2013.
The stamps, printed in panes of six, were sent to fulfill orders, including to field retail units.
The disclosure came from Paul Fagan, acting manager of USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services, in a June 20 response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Linn’s Stamp News.
The request sought information about whether USPS had actually distributed all 100 panes that it had promised to place on sale along with the common $2 reprints of the famous airmail stamp error showing the plane flying upside down.
On the 100 upright panes only, the airplane was intentionally printed flying right side up, creating an instant rarity.
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It was disclosed in July 2015 that, because of confusion and controversy, the Kansas City Stamp Fulfillment Services center never completed its planned distribution of all 100 upright sheets.
According to Fagan’s response to the FOIA request, an undisclosed number of the rare upright Jenny sheets were discovered at the center.
In a one-paragraph response to the Linn’s inquiry, Fagan said the undistributed rare upright panes were “counted, unwrapped and verified.”
Then “50 additional panes of Inverted Jenny’s [presumably, the common normal panes] were also unwrapped.” The inverted panes were then mixed together with the other “uninverted” panes and rewrapped, he said.
These were “randomly redistributed in the inventory on hand” at the fulfillment center.
“The inventory on-hand was used to fulfill all orders — from alternative access channels to field retail units,” he said.
“Orders of the inventory on hand were fulfilled as requested and all Un-inverted Jenny stamps were distributed until the inventory on hand was depleted,” he said.
The reply also notes that the entire operation was performed in front of a representative of the USPS Office of Inspector General. That office has criticized both the creation of a deliberate stamp rarity and the way Stamp Fulfillment Services botched its planned distribution of the rare upright version of the stamps.
Linn’s reported in early 2015 that three of the upright panes were sent to customers who had not ordered the sheets, a violation of USPS policy prohibiting the gifts of stamps.
The FOIA response from USPS did not offer any dates for the actions Fagan described, nor does it tell the number of upright panes involved in the final distribution process. A reported 23 panes of the upright stamps were still at the center in 2015, while others had been distributed to USPS post offices.
Linn’s reported last week that 32 finders of the 100 uninverted panes have notified the USPS of their find.
A Linn's appeal of the FOIA response has been filed requesting records of the actions taken in the distribution process.