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 Invertsopened 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?
When I interviewed for the position of Executive Director, I told the search committee and the Board that it would take five years to transform the organization from where it was to where we wanted it to go. Unlike the private sector, we have not had the luxury of radical transformations or experimenting with ideas and failing. So the plan to change had to be deliberate and thoughtful. By and large, the members and the Board support this approach and have provided great energy and talent to move the needle.
Over the past three years, the APS team has focused on delivering services effectively and efficiently to strengthen the organization’s finances, reduce debt, and unite the hobby. We are now financially strong, and we have to use this opportunity to invest in growing our membership and delivering information to stamp collectors of all ages. Things have gotten better, but we are aiming for great.
To accomplish this ambitious goal, I am pleased to announce we have formed a Senior Leadership Team to focus on the areas where we need to improve outcomes. With our new leadership team, we will work to make the APS more relevant in the modern age and recruit new members 24/7 and 365 days a year.
Meet the Team
Rick Banks, Chief Administrative Officer: Rick joined the APS in 2004 as Controller and Director of Internal Operations. He has previously worked for Arthur Andersen & Co., Piper Aircraft, and Vice President of Finance with Bellefonte Lime Company. Banks graduated from Penn State University in 1976 with a Business Administration degree.
Though he loves his alma mater, Rick is an unapologetic fan of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and makes an annual sojourn to Tuscaloosa with his three sons. Over these past three years, Rick’s leadership has been critical to getting us to the strong financial position we have today.
Ken Martin, Chief Membership Officer: Since 1980, when Ken joined the APS, he’s been one of its most loyal members. He joined the APS staff in 1995 in the Sales Division and has held numerous positions including Executive Director and most recently, Chief Operating Officer. Ken is also active in the Centre County community including leadership positions with the American Red Cross, State College Rotary, Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Historic Bellefonte, Inc.
Within our hobby’s grassroots, everyone knows Ken. He skipped his own college graduation to help set up for AMERIPEX in 1986 and staff the Junior Philatelists of America table for all 11 days! There is no better choice to lead our recruiting efforts than someone who has that kind of passion for the hobby and the APS.
As Chief Content Officer, Martin will lead the APS efforts to expand philatelic writing and information beyond the monthly journal to digital writing, video and other online content. He’s been a member of the APS since 2008, but a collector since he was a young boy.
In Columbus, we did mid-point review of the 2016 Strategic Plan for the APS and APRL Boards and the members present at the show. Progress has been strong in some areas, needs improvement in others, and some items should be eliminated. Our primary focus in the 2016 plan was to eliminate debt, improve operational efficiencies and deliver information in new ways.
In the three years, we’ve taken a debt of effectively $5.6 million and have brought it to $3.9 million as of this month – this includes making accelerated payments of more than $900,000 over the past 15 months.
We retired one of five bank mortgages for the APRL in 2017 with the sale of Position 76 of the Inverted Jenny. In Columbus, we raised enough money to retire the $600,000 we borrowed in 2016 to pay for unexpected costs from zoning requirements during the construction of the new library.
Our cash operating surplus has more than tripled in three years from $175,000 at the beginning of 2015 to $630,000 today.
The APS team shifted our education focus to provide more courses for adult and member collectors, exceeding our goals for “On the Road” courses and the annual Summer Seminar.
We proposed overhauling the APS website, creating a virtual library of philatelic journals and literature, and pushing more content across the digital platforms. We did not have the talent to get these projects done on time. Thankfully, when Martin Miller joined the staff, he took over the project earlier this year and is working to get it back on track. We are very close to completion on the site and plan to roll it out in September. There will be more elements to the site as time progresses, so keep tabs on our blog to get the latest.
Online Education has been a goal since our 2004 strategic plan and remains one today. This is most in-demand service from APS members and stamp collectors. This is going to require some investment of time, people, and applications. We are blessed with a large number of philatelic experts on any topic and we should be bringing them together with fellow collectors. As part of our website overhaul, we will be putting together a plan to make this happen.
Membership continues to decline. The Strategic Plan promised to strengthen the grassroots by getting APS Chapters more linked and having them serve as active recruiters, as well as working harder to identify prospective members elsewhere and recruit actively. This is a data-driven project and requires a broad knowledge of the philatelic community and Ken Martin is uniquely-talented to get this project moving and successful.
The Challenge Ahead
At the mid-point of the 2016 strategic plan, I believe we’ve accomplished the critical elements of that roadmap, in particular amassing an energized member base and financial resources to move aggressively to address these critical challenges. I requested the Board create a committee to work with this team to develop a new five-year strategic plan to make a serious investment, not in our survival, but our growth. APS President Bob Zeigler and APRL President Ken Grant have enthusiastically endorsed this request and assembled a joint committee to work with us on a plan.
Joint Strategic Planning Committee:
From the APS Board: Bob Zeigler (President), Cheryl Ganz (Vice President), Bruce Marsden (Treasurer), Rich Drews and Mark Schwartz (Directors-at-Large)
From the APRL Board: Ken Grant (President), Patricia Stilwell-Walker (Vice President), and Ken Nilsestuen (Treasurer)
Previous strategic plans have produced reports that sit on shelves, so thanks to the APS and APRL Boards and the great team we have in Bellefonte for supporting the vision and working to make it happen.
The Committee work is underway and will report back to the APS Board at AmeriStamp 2019 in February with a plan to move ahead. I will continue to update members as things develop, but if you ever want to share your thoughts on this or other subjects, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-933-3814.
The American Philatelic Society is pleased to announce the winners in this year’s Chapter and Affiliates Web Awards recognizing website excellence. A total of nine groups participated in this competition, which was open to all APS chapter clubs, all clubs or federations that run stamp shows, and their qualified affiliates.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the Internet to commerce and communication in 21st-century America. From ages 9 to 90, more of us turn to websites and other web connections for ideas and information, knowledge, advice and learning at every level than any other resource. Whether we’re trying to reach complete beginners or advanced specialists, the presence of the stamp hobby on the worldwide web is a potent voice for our pastime, and a bright path of a long and creative future.
Each of this year’s websites in the APS competition was evaluated according to a variety of categories, which assessed their overall content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality and interactivity. The judges for the 2018 Web Awards were Terry Dempsey of Grayson, Georgia; Charles “Chip” Gliedman of Ridgefield, Connecticut; and Jessica Rodriguex of San Jose, California.
By no means are these awards intended just to celebrate long-active well-established websites like these. The idea behind these awards is to encourage more stamp clubs, specialty organizations and affiliates to try their hand at creating websites of their own, to serve current members better and to reach out to new members as well.
The detailed scoring sheets used by the expert judges, who have considerable Internet experience themselves, are intended to showcase the strengths and to suggest areas for potential improvement in new websites, helping its sponsoring organization make progress in serving the hobby. Entry is free.
The 2019 American Philatelic Society Web Competition is eager for more entries, including submissions from first-time webmasters eager to get feedback on their Internet presence. The competition will be held in the Spring, with details available at www.stamps.org/Club-Benefits.
More than 100 philatelists – including 83 enrolled in classes, 29 of them first-timers – will participate in the seminar, which runs from Sunday through June 29 at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Participants can partake in more than 20 classes, attend a first-day-of-issue stamp ceremony, bid on items at an auction, hear keynote speakers and enjoy meals and social events. They also will have time to visit, learn about and use the American Philatelic Research Library, which, like the APS, is housed in the center.
Here’s a summary of seminar highlights.
Randy L. Neil will be honored at a dinner on Thursday, June 28 as this year’s Distinguished Philatelist. Neil – a longtime collector, author, editor and past president of the APS – is a 2000 recipient of the APS Luff Award.
A hobby that often makes the most of rarities will enjoy a rare in-person event at this year’s seminar – a first-day ceremony for a new U.S. stamp; well, actually three new stamps. The new $1, $2, and $5 Statue of Freedom stamps will be during the seminar at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 27. There are a few dozen first-day ceremonies a year, but only a few have ever been held in Central Pennsylvania, the last being the nonprofit Lamb envelope of 1995.
On that same day, Mary-Anne Penner, director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal Service, will speak during a general session. Other general session speakers are Michael Baadke, editor of Linn’s Stamp News, on Monday; Bill Schultz, nationally accredited philatelic judge, on Tuesday; Justin Gordon, author and Holocaust postal historian on Thursday; and philatelic writer and author Kitty Wunderly, on Friday.
Variety is the keyword when it comes to course. There are more than 130 hours of instruction, including four- and two-day classes, plus electives. Major courses range from Stamp Technology and Intermediate Exhibiting to Washington-Franklins Expertizing and A Comprehensive Postal History of Great Britain, 1510-1850. Electives include King George V and the Royal Collection, First Day Covers in the Mailstream, WWI at the National Postal Museum and Spain’s Quinta de Goya Stamps of 1930.
Members of the Class of 2018 Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship will be on hand, as well Class of 2017 member Ian Hunter, who received a youth scholarship in honor of Gerhard S. Wolff, sponsored by the Wolff family.
APS Executive Director Scott English will address participants at the opening night dinner, which will be followed by a scavenger hunt.
An in-house auction with more than 250 lots will be held Tuesday evening and a Buy, Sell and Trade Night is set or Wednesday.
The APRL offers a station-by-station tour after hours on June 25. Throughout the week, there are extended hours for the APRL, Circuit Sales Division, the APS gift shop and Stamp and Cover store.
The summer edition of the U.S. Postal Service’s catalog, USA Philatelic, includes an interview with Dawn Hamman. Hamman is vice-president of the American Topical Association and an avid collector, writer and exhibitor. The interview highlights the power of topical collecting to reach broad new audiences with creative, flexible approaches to collecting. She goes on to discuss how the “thrill of the chase” makes collecting a riveting hobby for collectors old and new.
Also featured in the article is the combined StampShow and National Topical Stamp Show co-hosted by the American Philatelic Society and the American Topical Association. The U.S. Postal Service will issue the new Mythical Dragons forever stamps at the show, making for a natural show theme of “Here Be Dragons.” Both organizations are working to make this year’s show an experience for collectors of all ages and interests. The July edition of The American Philatelistwill feature several articles related to the show theme and a comprehensive guide to the event. A mobile app is also available.
The USA Philatelic interview highlights the U.S. Postal Service’s interest and dedication to supporting stamp collectors and their widely varied interests. The central booth at StampShow/NTSS will be home to the USPS during the four day event and will offer a virtual reality experience sure to please even the most discerning technophiles.