Heritage Re-Enters Philatelic Market With $825,000 “Inverted Jenny” Sale

Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas (www.HA.com), the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer, formally re-entered the philatelic market after 14 years with the $825,000 sale of an “Inverted Jenny” stamp. The 24-cent denomination, U.S. red, white and blue misprint (Scott #C3a) depicting an upside-down Curtis 4-N (“Jenny”) biplane was position number 84 on the original sheet of 100.

The mint condition stamp is one of the finest known and one of no more than a half dozen never-hinged specimens. It is certified by Professional Stamp Experts as PSE 75 NH.

“We have tens of thousands of rare coin clients who are ready to buy stamps now that they know we’re in the market. This stamp was purchased for one of them,” said Greg Rohan, Heritage’s President.

“We acquired it from Sonny Hagendorf of Scarsdale, New York for $750,000 and sold it for $825,000 to a senior Wall Street executive who is a long-time coin collector. This is the first rare stamp he’s ever purchased. He told me it’s a great value and he’s thrilled. I was the under-bidder on his behalf at the Siegel’s auction in November when the ‘Inverted Jenny’ position number 57 was offered,” explained Rohan.

The eventual winning bidder for number 57 was collector Charles Hack who purchased it for $850,000 plus the buyer’s premium.

The anonymous new owner of number 84 issued a brief statement through Heritage: “Since I was a kid I have wanted to own an ‘Inverted Jenny.’ I consider it to be a cultural icon, and to have the opportunity to buy one of the never-hinged specimens is the realization of a lifelong dream come true.”

The stamp is from the sheet of 100 misprinted airmail stamps purchased at a Washington, DC post office on May 14, 1918 by collector William T. Robey.

“The Inverted Jenny sold at the Siegel’s auction is slightly higher in grade, probably 80, and lightly hinged. Never-hinged examples are rare with only two certified by PSE and no more than six known in all,” said Jim Halperin, Heritage Co-Chairman.

“It’s too soon to tell whether the evolving philatelic market will value a super fresh 80 LH higher or lower than a beautiful 75 NH. Regardless, both stamps are top of the line and easily rank among the very finest from the entire sheet of 100.”

Heritage Co-Chairman Steve Ivy was active in the stamp business for decades under the name, Ivy & Mader. It was the second largest philatelic firm in the United States when the company was sold in 1993.

“We’ve watched the stamp market evolving and we like what we see. We think it has vast potential now that third-party grading and certification are finally catching on,” said Ivy.

Less than a week after acquiring the sheet of 100 inverted airmail stamps in May 1918, Robey sold it to respected Philadelphia dealer Eugene Klein for $15,000. It was subsequently sold intact by Klein to gregarious multi-millionaire collector, Col. Edward H.R. Green, for $20,000. Green later allowed Klein to separate the stamps and sell individual examples and blocks. Klein wrote the sheet position number lightly in pencil on the back of each stamp.

In his 1986 book, The Inverted Jenny: Money, Mystery, Mania, author George Amrick traced the history of stamp position number 84:

“Sold at auction Jan. 14, 1950 by Daniel Kelleher to Bruce G. Daniels, Boston dealer, for $2,650. Described as NH. Sold in 1954 by Daniels to Jack Dick for $3,500. Sold at auction May 26, 1955, as part of Dick collection by Robert A. Siegel. Sold at auction November 4, 1964 by H. R. Harmer as part of the Matthews collection to Raymond H. Weill for $15,500. Described as NH. Sold at auction May 28, 1969, by H.R. Harmer by order of the United States Trust Company, New York to Myron Kaller for $31,000 described as NH. Sold at auction by Harmers of New York for $47,000. Described as NH. Has PFC 31163 (issued 1969).”

Heritage had almost $600 million in public auction and private transaction sales of rare collectibles and fine art in 2007, making it the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer and the world’s third largest auction house overall.