One Down, One More to Go

Its whereabouts unknown since the year it was issued, the 99th of 100 inverted bi-colored 24-cent Jenny airmail stamps has come to light, safely reposing in a bank vault and part of collection in Illinois. The story was reported September 6, 2018, by James Barron in The New York Times(“An Inverted Jenny Surfaces. The Flawed Stamp Had Not Been Seen Since 1918.”)

The stamp surfaced and the story came to light when Curator Lewis Kaufman identified it from a cellphone image sent to the Philatelic Foundation in New York City. Very lightly penciled numerals on the back of the stamp confirmed Kaufman’s suspicion that it was number 49 from the discovery sheet of 100 of this error, Scott C3a, in which the blue central vignette showing the biplane had been printed upside-down with respect to the carmine rose outer frame.

The best-known American stamp error by far is also one of the most sought-after of all American issues. It has a 2018 Scott catalog value of $450,000, which soars to $850,000 in mint, never-hinged condition.

PF Executive Director Larry Lyons called the owner back and confirmed the identity of the stamp. According to Lyons, “A great-uncle apparently bought it after the sheet of 100 was broken up, and after the great-uncle died, the great-aunt left it to the man’s mother in the 1930s.

The long-awaited re-emergence of No. 49 leaves the whereabouts of only one inverted Jenny unknown, as it has been since the block of four from which it was broken was stolen from a stamp show in 1955 in Norfolk, Virginia. Its owner was Ethel Stewart McCoy, daughter of one of the co-founders of Dow Jones & Co.

The Breaking of the McCoy Block

After the theft, the block of four was separated into four single stamps to make them harder for potential buyers to recognize as stolen. In 1958, the first of these came to light as belonging to a stamp dealer from northeastern Illinois, although there was apparently not enough evidence to charge him with possession of stolen goods. Because Ethel McCoy transferred her ownership rights for the stolen block over to the American Philatelic Research Library (APRL), it took possession of the recovered stamp, and for the second stolen Jenny broken from her block that was identified in 1982.

The third of the four singles was discovered turned at Spink USA, a Manhattan auction house, in April 2016, delivered to the head of Spink’s philatelic department by Keelin O’Neill, a young man from Northern Ireland who had emailed him previously. The story he told was that had recognized the potential value of the invert among a box of stamps his grandfather had had left to him in 2001.

In Siegel Auction Galleries May 11, 2017, the third of the recovered Jenny Inverts opened in the bidding at $120,000, and quickly more than doubled. It was hammered down at $295,000, including the buyer’s premium of 18 percent.

$60,000 Reward Awaits

In 2014, the American Philatelic Research Library offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the last two purloined airmail errors, and prominent second-generation dealer and stamp hobby promoter Donald Sundman, president of Mystic Stamp Co., handsomely topped it with a reward of $50,000 for each stamp.

Now only one of these rare errors remains undiscovered: No. 66. Who will be the fortunate philatelist to find this last upside-down Jenny and claim the reward? Could it be…you? 

Global Rate Poinsettia stamp

2018 Global PoinsettiaOn July 24, the U.S. Postal Service announced that a new Global Rate Poinsettia stamp would be among the numerous holiday-related issues to be released this year, as noted in a July 25 APS blog post (Festivals and Flowers Usher in Second Quartet of 2018 US Holiday Stamps).

The USPS has announced August 27 as the nationwide date of issue for what it now terms its “Blossoming Poinsettia” stamp. As with all Global Forever stamps, this stamp will have a postage value equivalent to the price of the single-piece First-Class Mail International 1-ounce machineable letter in effect at the time of use (currently $1.15). These stamps also can be used on domestic mail.

The circular stamp features an image of a poinsettia from above, displaying the beauty of its green leaves, red bracts and yellow flowers. As much a part of December’s holiday season as evergreens and mistletoe. poinsettias are sold in the U.S. by the tens of millions each year.

The art director for this stamp was William J. Gicker. Greg Breeding designed the stamp with an existing photograph by Betsy Pettet.

1964 Poinsettia StampPoinsettias first blossomed on US postage 54 years ago, with a 5-cent green, carmine and black Christmas stamp in 1964 (Scott 1256). Since then, they have been showcased on a Season’s Greetings stamp in 1985 (Scott 2166), and on a host of Forever-rate (46-cent) booklet stamps released October 10-11, 2013 (Scott 4815-16, 4821).

Customers have 120 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail by affixing the stamps to envelopes they choose, addressing the envelopes to themselves or others and placing them in larger stamped envelopes addressed to:

FDOI – Global Poinsettia Stamp
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for postmarks up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by December 26, 2018.

PMG Brennan to Dedicate New Sparkling Santa Stamps

USPS Holiday Stamps 2018A se-tenant issue of four “Sparkling Holidays” Forever-rate stamps depicting classic images of Santa Claus painted by famed commercial artist Haddon Sundblom was announced and featured June 26 on the APS Blog (“US Postal Service to issue Iconic Santa Stamps“). These four stamps will be issued October 11 in an 11:15 a.m. dedication ceremony by U.S. Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan at The Inn at Christmas Place, 119 Christmas Tree Lane, in Pigeon Ford, TN  37868.

One of Sundblom’s iconic close-ups of Santa’s face appears on each of the four stamps, details from larger paintings created by the artist and originally used in Coca-Cola Co. ads from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Sundblom is the man credited with refining the modern image of Santa Claus. A previously unannounced matching souvenir sheet includes a semi-jumbo stamp as part of a wider scene of one of Sundblom’s paintings chosen for the stamp booklet. In it, Santa is depicted standing by a fireplace holding a book that lists good boys and girls, reading a note among the three Christmas stockings hanging there.

A quatrefoil design element surrounded by a metallic gold background encloses the scene. The use of gold metallic ink, the flow of the type, and the organic shape of the border are intended to harken back to the graphic style of the first half of the 20th century. Art director Greg Breeding designed the souvenir sheet and the stamps.

Holiday Souvenir SheetSparkling Holidays Stamps, sold in books of 20, and the single-stamp- Sparkling Holidays souvenir sheet will be available for pre-order online starting Sept. 14 at The Postal Store at usps.com. The souvenir sheet will only be sold through usps.com or by calling 1-800-STAMP24.

WWI Stamp Dedication Ceremony in K.C.

by Steven J. Bahnsen

With an American Legion band playing “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,”  the U.S. Postal Service dedicated the World War I Forever stamp on July 26.  The theme of the stamp  ─ Turning the Tide ─ commemorates the centennial of America’s involvement in the Great War.

A crowd of 150 took part in the dedication ceremony in the large auditorium of the National World War I Museum and Monument, which overlooks downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  The Fort Riley (Kansas) Doughboy Honor Guard presented the colors before the singing of the National Anthem.

Lora Vogt, Curator of Education at the museum, was the Master of Ceremonies. One of her comments hit home with stamp collectors in the audience: she likes self-adhesive stamps(as do those at many organizations that conduct mass mailings), and she thanked the USPS for issuing them.

The principal speaker at the ceremony was USPS Executive Vice President and General Counsel Thomas J. Marshall. Other speakers included Dr. Matthew Naylor, President of the National World War I Museum; Quartermaster General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Quartermaster General Debra Anderson  National Postal Museum Curator Lynn Heidelbaugh; and Dr. Richard Faulkner, Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  Joining these people onstage for the stamp unveiling was Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

All who attended received a handsome program with a first day cancel on the outer envelope, along with a stamp pin to wear. As the American Legion Band’s wind ensemble concluded with “Kansas City”,  people went into the lobby for autographs.

The official unveiling of the new World War I Turning the Tide commemorative.

The Kansas City post office set up separate tables for stamp sales and first day pictorial postmarks.  No.  6¾  envelopes with color first day cancels were on sale as well, created at the nearby Philatelic Fulfillment Center, the so-called “Kansas City Caves.” While no commercial stamp  dealers  could sell cacheted envelopes,  the Gladstone (Missouri) Stamp Club had a table promoting its August 24-25 show.

The WWI stamp dedication was a well-executed event on everyone’s part. It was a pleasure to attend.

A U.S. doughboy fires a massive howitzer on this first day pictorial postmark on covers given out July 26 at the World War I Forever stamp dedication ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri.

Feature Image: The 1st Infantry Division’s Commanding General’s Color Guard in WWI doughboy uniforms presented the colors before the dedication. (Image courtesy Capt. Ed Alvarado, 19th Public Affairs Detachment.)

Make V-ROOOOM! For Iconic Toys on Stamps

A half-century ago in 1968, a Mattel toy innovator, a car designer and a rocket scientist combined to create a fast and furious fantasy cars that became famous as Hot Wheels. This year, to mark their 50th anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service will uncage 20 Forever stamps showcasing some of the most outrageous Hot Wheels cars for fans and racers of all ages.

A self-adhesive pane of 20 stamps in diagonal rows showcase photographer Len Rizzi’s images of 10 Hot Wheels cars — two of each design — speeding along a bright orange track. Each displays the name of the vehicle, “USA” and “Forever,” with the Hot Wheels logo in the top corner of the pane, and the 50th anniversary logo on the back of the pane.

The miniature Hot Wheels depicted are: Purple Passion (1990); Rocket-Bye-Baby (1971); Rigor Motor (1994); Rodger Dodger (1974); Mach Speeder (2018); The Twin Mill (1969); Bone Shaker (2006); HW40 (2008); Deora II (2000); and The Sharkruiser (1987).

Greg Breeding designed the stamps and was the typographer, and William J. Gicker was the project’s art director. The stamps will be dedicated during a first-day-of-issue ceremony Saturday, September 29, at the Goodguys 26th Summit Racing Lone Star Nationals in Fort Worth, Texas. Followers of the U.S. Postal Service’s Facebook page can view the ceremony live at facebook.com/USPS.