Arago: Exhibits

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Upside-Down Errors

In an invert error, the center image is printed upside-down relative to the frame. Miller liked to tell how he bought one of the “Jenny” airmail inverts of 1918.

“A small Washington dealer conceived a desire to buy a sheet of this issue,” he told the Milwaukee Journal. “He took his $24 and went to the treasury and bought a sheet.”

“When the dealer got back to his shop,” he continued, “he discovered that the airplane was upside down... Packing his grip he went to Philadelphia where he sold the sheet to a large dealer.” Miller added, “I got in early and bought one for $250 and commission.”

24c Curtiss Jenny invert single

Miller’s inverted “Jenny” is one of 100 known copies, all from a sheet sold at the Washington, D.C., post office. This is position 18 from the sheet. It originally had perforations along the top; someone trimmed them off after the 1977 theft to disguise it as position 9.

1c Fast Lake Navigation single

The Great Lakes steamship City of Alpena floats upside-down in these inverts of the 1¢ stamp issued for the 1901 Buffalo world’s fair or Pan-American Exposition. Single copies are scarce; this block of four is rare.

2c Empire State Express single

The 2¢ Pan-American invert shows an upside-down express train (technically, it was the border in the Pan-American inverts that was printed upside down). Just 200 copies of this error were sold, of which only a portion survive today.

4c Electric Automobile single

Unlike the 1¢ and 2¢ inverts, the 4¢ Pan-American invert was a deliberate error. A total of 400 copies were printed for the Post Office.