Most publicized stamp error in US history reprinted

Most publicized stamp error in US history reprinted (Image 1)

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. 

The “Inverted Jenny” stamp sheet, issued the day prior to the flight, has become the most publicized stamp error in U.S. history. One stamp sold at auction in 2007 for $977,500. 

The Inverted Jenny flies again and will get its stamp of approval at 1 p.m., Sun., Sept. 22 at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum when Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe dedicates the Stamp Collecting:  Inverted Jenny $2 stamp. The event is free and open to the public.

Visit this link at the National Postal Museum to see examples of Postal Service innovations.

To make them easily distinguishable from the 24-cent originals, the six $2 Inverted Jennys on this sheet commemorate the many ways a single stamp can turn a moment in history upside down. The stamp sheet coincides with the grand opening of the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum William H. Gross Stamp Gallery — to house the world's largest stamp collection. The museum is across the street from Union Station at 3 Mass. Ave., N.W. in Washington, DC. 

The stamp will be available for purchase nationwide on Sept. 22. Customers may pre-order the stamps now at, at 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724) for delivery by mail early next week.

The Backstory

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. For nearly a century, stamp collectors have chased the Inverted Jennys and have accounted for nearly all 100 of them.

Customers may view the Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny Forever stamps, as well as many of this year's other stamps, on Facebook at, on Twitter @USPSstamps or on the website Beyond the Perf at 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 their local Post Office, at or 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 a larger envelope addressed to:

Stamp Collecting: Inverted Jenny Stamp

Special Cancellations

P.O. 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 five-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 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

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