Arago: 24-cent Curtiss Jenny

24-cent Curtiss Jenny

24c Curtiss Jenny invert single

Scott Catalogue USA: C3a

The most famous US 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.

The Washington, DC, post office 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.

Benjamin K. Miller, one of the early buyers, obtained a single, position 18, from the sheet of one hundred for $250. The "Inverted Jenny" prices quickly soared, and Miller eagerly sought other stamps before their values skyrocketed as well. He then began in earnest to obtain one example of every known US stamp in the Scott postage stamp catalogue. Miller's "Inverted Jenny" was stolen in 1977 and recovered in the early 1980s. The perforations along the top had been trimmed to disguise it as position 9.

This stamp was the centerpiece attraction in Part II of the National Postal Museum's 'Rarity Revealed' exhibition, 2007-2009. The "Inverted Jenny" is the most requested postage stamp for viewing by visitors at the museum.

May 14, 1918
paper; ink (carmine rose, blue)/engraving
Museum ID:
The Benjamin K. Miller Stamp Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

  • 24c Curtiss Jenny invert single
  • Page 1128029
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