(Oceanside, N.Y.) – An unused 1869 24-cent inverted center U.S. stamp, # 120b, certified Fine and one of only four unused examples known to exist, soared to $1.271 million at a sale of The Newport Collection held February 9 by Philip Weiss Auctions.

24-cent-invert-120b.jpgIt was a new world auction record for a U.S. invert, eclipsing the $825,000 paid for a 24-cent “Inverted Jenny” sold at auction late last year.

In fact, the Philip Weiss sale also featured an Inverted Jenny (so-named because it depicts an upside-down Curtis 4-N “Jenny” bi-plane). That stamp sold for $271,200, making it the third top lot of the sale.

In second place, behind the 1869 24-cent stamp, was an 1869 15-cent inverted center stamp, # 119b, unused. It hammered for $757,100. In all, 24 U.S. inverts realized $2.7 million in the auction.

“What this sale proved to me is that a non-traditional sale staged by an auction house that doesn’t exclusively handle stamps and coins can still shatter world record prices, as long as the merchandise is top-quality,” said Philip Weiss. “This was a great day for the industry and a great day for stamp enthusiasts, too. Recession? What recession? We had a packed house and money was spent.”

Mr. Weiss estimated the in-house crowd at 100 people, to go with an active phone, Internet and absentee bidding component. “We had over 2,000 registered bidders,” he remarked. About 350 lots changed hands in a sale that grossed more than $3 million. “It was one of the better auctions we’ve staged, and that was only Part 1 of The Newport Collection,” Mr. Weiss said. “Part 2 will be in May.”

People will be buzzing about the 1869 24-cent invert for some time to come. It was the only completely sound- and fault-free example of the stamp and was the second best centered such stamp known to exist. Still, the specimen carried a conservative pre-sale estimate of $200,000-$300,000. The Scott Catalog valued the stamp at $325,000 with gum (unlisted no gum). Bidders saw things otherwise.

The 1869 15-cent invert (# 119b, unused, no gum) that sold for $757,100 was expected to be the day’s top lot, since it was one of only three in existence – and one of those was recently offered for sale, with an asking price of $2.5 million. The one sold by Philip Weiss had a Fine Certification, but it exhibited some faint soiling in the left and right margins. That may have driven the price down some.

inverted-jenny.jpg The 24-cent Inverted Jenny (#C3a, Position 31, unused) was in mint condition and one of only three known to exist. When the same stamp was sold at auction in 1972, it was described in the sale catalog as the “star item of the sale.” And no wonder: the Inverted Jenny has long been considered one of stamp collecting’s Holy Grails. This one had been tucked away in a closet for the past 35 years.

Other highlights from the sale follow. All prices quoted include a 13% buyer’s premium.

An 1869 30-cent inverted center U.S. stamp (Scott # 121b, unused, no gum) crossed the block at $248,600. The stamp, one of only seven unused examples in existence, was graded Fine and had a pre-sale estimate of $75,000-$100,000. The Scott Catalog valued it at $210,000. The example was bright and fresh, with only light staining on the reverse and a pulled perforation at the bottom.

A 2-cent Pan-American inverted center U.S. stamp (Scott # 295a, unused) in mint condition rose to $118,650. The stamp, one of only 75-100 unused examples, was graded Extremely Fine and had a pre-sale estimate of $45,000-$60,000. It was beautifully centered, with uncharacteristically massive margins. The paper was sound, and the gum was only slightly affected by some light hinging at the top.

Two rare examples of dual denomination currency fetched a combined $90,000. One was a $10 bill with $20 showing on the back (CH# 5318, The Lowry NB, FR # 577), and the other was a $20 bill with $10 showing on the back (CH# 5318, The Lowry NB, FR # 581). Both had been minted in Atlanta, Ga., in 1882 and were graded PMG EF 45. Each had a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$50,000.

Philip Weiss Auctions’ next big sale will be held February 23-24, with the estate of a prominent family from Pelham, N.Y. Featured will be items from Harper Publishing — the consignor’s namesake – including a complete run of Harper’s Weeklies. Also sold will be a collection of original illustrative art. February 24 will feature an original oil painting attributed to John Sherburne Blunt, plus a recently discovered, 14th-century oil-on-board painting by Allegretto Nuzi (Italian, 1310-1374).

Philip Weiss Auctions will take a well deserved rest in March, then come back big on April 5-6 with a weekend sale that promises to be strong both days. On Sunday, April 6, a private collection of high-end mechanical banks, coin-operated machines and slot machines will be sold. The group will be led by a beautiful “Girl Skipping Rope” bank. Other consignments were being added at press time.

Also on April 6: Part 1 of The B. L. “Phil” Phillips Collection, featuring many high-end robots and space toys. In May, Part 2 of the collection will be sold, to include vintage and rare battery-op toys; Franklin Mint pieces; and more. On April 26, yet another sale will be held, featuring a 1,000+-piece lifetime comic collection, to include Golden and Silver Age comics, graded books and pedigrees.

Philip Weiss Auctions is a full-service auction facility, with a spacious gallery located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside, N.Y. To learn more about the company and the upcoming auction dates, log on to the new website at The firm is always accepting quality consignments. To consign an item, estate or collection, please call (516) 594-0731, or e-mail to [email protected]