Director of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum Allen Kane and USPS Director of Stamp Services and Corporate Licensing Susan McGowan unveiled the preliminary design for an Inverted Jenny stamp at the APS AmeriStamp Expo stamp show in Louisville, Kentucky today (Friday, January 18, 2013).
The preliminary design includes replicas of America’s most famous stamp and one of the world’s most famous errors. The margins of the stamp sheet feature images related to the 24-cent Curtiss Jenny stamp and the 1918 inaugural airmail service, including pilot Major Reuben Fleet of the Army Air Corps and the Washington DC – Philadelphia - New York airmail flight route. In the upper left corner is the main post office in Washington, DC, at the time, which would process airmail and currently houses the National Postal Museum.
This famous U.S. stamp printing error occurred at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing during the week of May 6-13, 1918. One sheet of one hundred stamps with an inverted image of a blue airplane escaped detection. The error occurred either when an inverted carmine frame sheet was fed into the small hand press for the second impression or when the plate printer, after inking and wiping, placed an inverted blue vignette plate into the press. The biplane featured in the design is the famous JN-4-H "Jenny," modified by replacing the front cockpit with a mail compartment.
Another post office in Washington, DC, sold the error sheet on May 14, 1918, to William T. Robey. The lucky collector sold it to Eugene Klein, a Philadelphia stamp dealer, for $15,000. Klein then sold the sheet to collector Colonel H.R. Green and recommended breaking the sheet into blocks and singles to sell. The entire discovery and sales received enormous press.
The new stamp sheet will be issued on September 22, opening day of the National Postal Museum’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. The Gross Stamp Gallery will be the world’s largest stamp gallery. A block of four of the original 1918 Inverted Jenny will be on permanent display courtesy of Bill Gross.