$1 Rush Lamp and Candle Holder invert error single
mint, perforate tan, brown, orange and yellow $1 stamp with lithographed candle and flame inverted in the lower right-hand corner of the stamp
Corner sheet margin copy, position 100.
This is an example of the third [or fourth] error type associated with United States Scott 1610. The first (1610a) has brown engravings omitted; the second (1610b) has tan, orange and yellow inks omitted; the third (1610c) has brown engraving inverted.
The History of the CIA Inverts from object 1987.0145.1:
In April 1986 nine employees of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) discovered the $1 Rush Lamp error stamps that had been purchased with government funds at the McLean, Virginia post office substation. Two versions of the story exist. The first version, published by Jacques Schiff, claims that the error was discovered after affixing the first 14 stamps of the pane of 100 to outgoing mail. A 15th example (position 86) was torn in handling. The selvage containing the plate number was not part of the purchase.
The second (official) version, published by Linn's Stamp News, cites that the McLean, Virginia, post office had sold the CIA 95 stamps. The other 5 stamps of the pane had presumably been sold to other postal customers. Nine stamps were used as postage on Agency mail before the inversion was discovered. [Although a 1991 Museum justification memorandum for the acquisition of 4 stamps (see 1990.0613) states that none were affixed to outgoing mail.] Nine stamps were also kept by the CIA employees.
Both versions agree that New Jersey stamp dealer Jacques C. Schiff, Jr., who specializes in philatelic errors, acquired the mint material from the CIA employees who were referred to him by Annandale, Virginia, stamp dealer Ike Snyder. Snyder felt that Schiff could offer a better price.
The group privately purchased replacement stamps for the Agency and then sold the remaining block of 85 inverts to Schiff on April 2, 1986. [Schiff paid Snyder a finder's fee after the purchase.] They also presented Schiff with the damaged single stamp. The money from this sale was shared by eight of the CIA co-workers. The provenance of the other three panes in the sheet of 400 — and the 5 stamps from this pane — are not known.
At AMERIPEX on May 28, 1986, in Rosemont, Illinois, Schiff auctioned the first stamp (position 85) from the remaining block of 85 CIA inverts. The block of 84 was displayed in the Court of Honor at that philatelic exposition.
Donald Sundman, president of the Mystic Stamp Company, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 1987 which revealed the CIA's link to the philatelic find. According to Linn's Stamp News, "Mystic and two other stamp companies acquired 50 of the inverts shortly after their discovery."
The printing error occurred in at least one of the 70,397 sheets of the Rush Lamp postage stamp produced by the Bureau between November 1 and 15, 1985. The foreman of the Bureau's sheet examining section told investigators that between November 13 and 18 her section had examined these sheets and found no inverted sheets. These sheets had come from Plate Printing Section 10 where press 110 had been used exclusively for the engraved second printing. The inversion could have occurred there or in the Surface Printing Division (after offset printing) when pressmen pull sheets to check quality before reinserting them in the stack.
The CIA completed an internal review of the matter and then turned the case over to the public integrity section of the Justice Department for possible prosecution of the employees for theft or misappropriation of government supplies. The CIA requested the return of the nine stamps held by the employees or threatened forfeiture of jobs. One man had lost his stamp. Four workers were fired for failure to comply. And four stamps were returned in exchange for jobs. These four stamps (positions 86, 97, 98 and 100) constitute accession 1990.0613.