Rarest Stamp Error in U.S. History, 24-CENT 1918 CURTISS JENNY INVERTED, Flies Again


In a move to celebrate the grand opening of the WILLIAM H. GROSS GALLERY AT THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL POSTAL MUSEUM and promote October as NATIONAL STAMP COLLECTING MONTH, the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE dedicated a new $2 version of the most publicized stamp error in U.S. history today — the 24-CENT 1918 CURTISS JENNY INVERTED airmail stamp.

The $12 Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny souvenir sheet is available nationwide today by visiting www.usps.com/stamps, calling 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724) or by visiting Post Offices.

The $12 Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny souvenir sheet is available nationwide today by visiting http://www.usps.com/stamps, calling 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724) or by visiting Post Offices.

In 1918, in a rush to celebrate the first airmail flight, the Post Office department issued the 24-cent Curtiss Jenny stamp. Because the design required two colors, sheets were placed on the printing press twice — first to apply red ink and a second time to apply blue ink. This process was given to human error — as stamp collectors at the time well knew. A Washington, DC, Post Office clerk — who had never seen an airplane — sold a sheet of 100 stamps mistakenly showing the biplane upside down. And for nearly a century now, stamp collectors have chased after the Inverted Jennys and have accounted for nearly all 100 of them.

Two eerie occurrences took place surrounding the nation’s first airmail flight. The pilot got lost, flew in the wrong direction



and crashed. And due to a printing error of the stamp created to commemorate this historic event, the biplane depicted on the 24-cent Curtiss Jenny airmail stamp was upside down. A sheet of 100 stamps bearing this error was sold to the public. One stamp sold at auction in 2007 for $977,500.

The stamp is much more than a misprint,” said POSTMASTER GENERAL PATRICK DONAHOE in dedicating the stamp. “It also symbolizes the Postal Service’s pioneering role in American history. Air mail turned out to be one of our most successful innovations. By showing that air travel could be safe and useful, we helped create the entire American aviation industry, which went on to reshape the world.”

Pan Am, TWA, American, United, Northwest and other airlines originated as air mail contractors before passenger service began. Additionally to help commercial aviation get off the ground and to speed the mail, the Post Office Department helped develop navigational aids such as beacons and air-to-ground radio. Today the Postal Service continues as the commercial aviation industry’s largest freight customer. Mail also flies on FedEx and UPS cargo aircraft. Visit this link at the National Postal Museum to see examples of Postal Service innovations.

Joining Donahoe in dedicating the souvenir sheet were NASA Mission Operations and Data Analysis Program Executive DR. JEFFREY HAYES; Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum Director ALLEN KANE; National Postal Museum William H.

The 2013 $2 version of the most publicized stamp error in U.S. history today — the 24-CENT 1918 CURTISS JENNY INVERTED airmail stamp.

The 2013 $2 version of the most publicized stamp error in U.S. history today — the 24-CENT 1918 CURTISS JENNY INVERTED airmail stamp.

Gross Gallery Lead Curator DR. CHERYL GANZ; and William H. Gross Gallery Curator DANIEL PIAZZA.

Customers may view the Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny stamps, as well as many of this year’s other stamps, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/USPSStamps, on Twitter@USPSstamps or on the website Beyond the Perf at www.beyondtheperf.com/2013-preview. Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service’s online site for information on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks

Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local Post Offices, at http://www.usps.com/stampsor by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny Stamp

Special Cancellations

PO Box 92282

Washington, DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, there is a 5-cent charge per postmark. All orders must be postmarked by Nov. 22, 2013.

Ordering First-Day Covers

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog online at usps.com/shop or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service

Catalog Request

PO Box 219014

Kansas City, MO  64121-9014

Philatelic Products: Nine philatelic products are available:

Inverted Jenny Press Sheet (with die-cuts)

580006, Press Sheet with Die Cuts, $72 (print quantity of 2,500).

580008, Press Sheet without Die Cuts, $72 (print quantity of 3,000).

Inverted Jenny DCP Keepsake

580010, Keepsake (Souvenir Sheet & Digital Color Postmark Set), $15.95.

Inverted Jenny First Day Cover

580016, First-Day Cover, $2.44.

Inverted Jenny FDC Full Sheet

580018, First-Day Cover (Full Sheet), $14.50.

Inverted Jenny First Day Cancelled Full Sheet

580019, First-Day Cancelled (Full Sheet), $14.50.

Inverted Jenny Digital Color Postmark

580021, Digital Color Postmark, $3.15.

Inverted Jenny Ceremony Program

580030, Ceremony Program, $6.95.

Inverted Jenny Collector’s Edition

580027, Inverted Jenny Limited Edition, $200 (Limited to 10 per customer). This limited-quantity offering pays tribute to the beloved stamp, taking collectors up close to the intaglio printing process behind the 2013 Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny stamps. The set includes: a series of collectible proofs pulled during the time of the 2013 production, showing each intaglio color in isolation; an authentic section of the die wipe used during the press run; one mint and one cancelled sheet of Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny Forever stamps; a 48-page booklet that reveals the story of the stamp, from how the initial error occurred, to why the Postal Service is issuing the new version; and a protective box that bears an ornamental seal showing the stamp name and biplane in hand-drawn lettering.