Two stamp sales which we’ve looked at recently – one just completed and one shortly to come– have given good examples of the differing draws which stamps can have on collectors.
Siegel is shortly to present the Albert D. Laehder collection, which amongst other things is offering some rare variations on the 1918 ‘Jenny’ stamp. This was a carmine and blue stamp depicting a biplane which was intended to launch US airmail.
It’s generally seen as a very attractive design. But the famous examples of the stamp are always those for which something has gone wrong.
One of the examples in the Siegel sale is the ‘Grounded Jenny’, in which the plane has scraped through the base of its framing dome, whilst another, the ‘fast plane’ variety is crashing horribly into the side of it.
The Grounded Jenny
Of course, the most famous variation by far, often considered ‘America’s favourite stamp’ and even referenced on The Simpsons is the Inverted Jenny, in which the plane has been printed upside-down.
In fact the most expensive purchase of a philatelic item to date is a block of four Inverted Jennies, bought by Bill Gross in 2005 for $2.7m, with the stamps apparently displaying an aeronautic display. That’s not easy to do with biplanes.
But not every collector is especially interested in errors.
The 1915 Seahorse issue
Admittedly few would follow Homer Simpson’s example if they chanced on a sheet of Inverted Jennies (flinging it away with an “Ugh! Plane’s upside-down!”), but when a stamp has a beautiful design they would usually be searching for the closest-to-perfection example they can afford.
A good example was on offer at the recent sale of Lord Steinberg’s collection at Sotheby’s. A superb block of the 1913 “Seahorse” Issue, with its striking design showing Britannia riding in to the shore on sea-conquering horses brought £33,600 ($52,779).
We have our own (1915) deep blue variation of the wonderful design available for sale at the moment – and we wouldn’t have Britannia floating in doing a handstand for anyone.