After seeming to have disappeared from the face of the earth for 61 years, after one of the most notorious crimes in philatelic history, one of the most famous postage stamps in the world has resurfaced. A block of four Inverted Jenny stamps was stolen from its exhibition frame during the American Philatelic Society convention in Norfolk, Virginia in 1955.
Three of the stamps from the block are now known to exist, as one turned up at a Chicago stamp and coin dealer’s shop in 1958 and another example was recovered in 1982.
The recently-found stamp is part of the collection of Ethel Bergstresser (Stewart) McCoy (1893-1980). She was a prominent philatelist with several important stamp collections. She purchased the block of four stamps for $16,000 in 1936 from stamp dealer Spencer Anderson. They were her most prized possessions.
The “Inverted Jenny” stamp was printed in haste in 1918. For 24 cents purchasers could, for the first time, send their letters by airmail. By the time the printer discovered the fault – the upside-down biplane – a post office customer had already bought a 100-stamp sheet with the misprint.
The British man in his twenties who presented the missing stamp at the auction house said he had inherited the item from his grandfather. How his grandfather acquired the stamp, the man said he had no idea.
The stamp is to be transferred to the American Philatelic Research Library, which had been designated as the owner by Ms. McCoy in 1979, shortly before her death.
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