A rare ‘Inverted Jenny’ stamp recently sold at auction for just over $2 million with fees, setting a record for a single US stamp.
The hammer price for the red, white and blue stamp was $1.7 million. The auction was conducted by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries on November 8.
“This is a historic moment for the hobby,” president Scott Trepel said in a statement emailed to ARTnews. “The Inverted Jenny we sold today is the best example of the 100 stamps from the sheet. We have tracked each of the stamps and are certain no other example compares to this one. For the collector, it simply doesn’t get better than this and the sale price of over $2 million reflects that fact.”
The 24-cent stamp was part of a rare sheet of 100 sold to a collector for $24 in 1918. The was an error made by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in the rush to print the design commemorating the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail route. All the other sheets with the image error were destroyed. It has become one of the most famous stamps in American history, and was even featured in the season five premiere of the Simpsons.
The stamp sold by Siegel Auctions was reviewed by two expert organizations, given a grade of 95 on a scale of 10 to 100 and deemed “Mint Never-Hinged”—in the same condition as when it was sold 105 years ago.
Prior to the record-breaking sale, Siegel Auctions sold several other examples of the Inverted Jenny stamp, included a block of four in 2005 for $2.7 million and another in “Mint Never-Hinged” condition in 2018 for $1.35 million. Trepel told the New York Times he has handled 66 of the stamps, selling a few more than once, and the company’s website also features an image of the stamp in its logo.
In June 2021, Sotheby’s sold a block of four Inverted Jenny stamps for an even higher sum during its “Three Treasures” sale of items from shoe designer Stuart Weitzman. The “lightly hinged” group of four had an estimate of $5 million to $7 million, and sold for $4.86 million with fees.