The Inverted Jenny or 1918 24c carmine rose and blue (also known as an Upside Down Jenny or Jenny Invert) is a United States postage stamp, regarded as one of the most famous and valuable in the world. It was first issued on May 10, 1918 in which the image of the Curtiss JN-4 airplane in the center of the design was accidentally printed upside-down.
Described by some as probably the most famous American error, the Inverted Jenny is also one of the most recognised and desired rarities in all of philately.
The stamp is an invert error, meaning that its Jenny aeroplane design was printed upside down. Invert errors typically occur because stamps with complex designs, involving more than one colour, may require two or more trips through the printing machine.
Only one pane of 100 of the invert stamps was ever found, making this error one of the most prized in all philately.
The Inverted Jenny's legendary status began the day after the stamp was issued in May 1918, when buyer William T. Robey purchased an entire sheet of 100 at the New York Avenue Post Office window in Washington DC.
Within one week Robey sold the sheet for $15,000 to the well-known Philadelphia stamp dealer Eugene Klein (an impressive return on his initial $24 investment).
Mr Klein then sold the sheet to the renowned, yet eccentric, collector Colonel Edward HR Green for $20,000. Col. Green asked Klein to break up the sheet for him into singles and blocks, then instructed him to sell all but the few key position blocks.
To date, no examples of the Inverted Jenny have been found which did not come from Robey's original sheet.
In December 2007, a mint never hinged example was sold for $825,000. The broker of the sale said the buyer was a Wall Street executive who lost the auction the previous month.
A block of four inverted Jennys was sold at a Robert A Siegel auction in October 2005 for US $2.7 million to billionaire collector Bill Gross. It is still the World Record price for a US philatelic item.
Rarity and condition
There are at least six examples of the Inverted Jenny whose whereabouts are unknown and presumably lost to philately.
A great many of the known copies have varying degrees of faults, some are without gum, or have been repaired. In addition, improper hinging has caused a significant number of additional faults, such as thins and creases.