World’s Most Famous Stamp
In addition to playing key roles in WWI aviation training, the success of the barnstorming era, and the fame of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, the “Jenny” was also responsible for the creation of the most world’s most famous stamp.
The “Jenny” stamp was created as a way to honor the new air mail service and a month before flight, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing prepared for the creation of the special stamp. Clair Aubrey Houston was tasked in creating the design and Marcus Baldwin was chosen to engrave it. By pure coincidence, the photo provided to Baldwin showed the first plane to take off from Washington (serial number was included). In an effort to create a patriotic theme, ared, white and blue color scheme was utilized.
The entire error-prone process included several steps. William T. Robey, a young, but knowledgeable collector, was familiar with the tedious process. When he heard of the multiple overlays required for this special stamp along with the rush to print, he made sure he was on standby. On the morning of May 14th, he withdrew money from his account and purchased a sheet of the stamps. When he saw that the Jenny was inverted, he couldn’t believe his luck stating, “My heart stood still.”
News of Robey’s luck quickly spread. With postal inspectors and government officials pressuring him to return the sheet of 100 stamps, Robey quickly spent several days procuring buyers. Eugene Kline bought sheet of stamps for $15,000, a huge sum of money for the time. Kline then sold them to Edward HR Green, son of Hetty “Witch of Wall Street” Green, for $20,000. The stamps were then sectioned off and sold to collectors and dealers around the world.
The most valuable stamps are the block of four with the blue plate number. These numbers would normally be trimmed away, but because of the blue color was inverted so the numbers were printed on the bottom. This block of stamps sold for nearly $3 million at a 2005 Siegel auction.
This stamp with the image of an upside down airplane inspired generations of collectors.