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10 Easy Payments!

It's probably the most famous U.S. stamp ever: The Jenny Invert, Sc. C3a. It's the upside-down biplane (a Curtiss JN-4, thus the name "Jenny") on the 1918 24-cent air mail stamp.

Only one sheet of one hundred was ever found, even though, by rights, there should have been three more.

William T. Robey bought the pane in May 1918 at a Washington post office for $24. It was sold soon after to eccentric millionaire stamp collector Edward H.R. Greene for $20,000 — $200 per stamp.

Today, each of those stamps is worth tens of thousands dollars. Mystic Stamp Company took out large ads recently offering one for that price, in ten no-interest payments.

"It's a stamp that many collectors dream about; it's just a really cool stamp," Mystic Stamp Co. president Don Sundman told the Virtual Stamp Club, "so we thought it would be fun to see if we could sell it by offering time payments."

Not only could they, they did. And maybe another as well.

"We have another customer that we're corresponding with and speaking with, and we're negotiating to see how serious he is, and if he is, then we're going to go out and try to buy another stamp," he said.

Sundman said there's a wide range of prices depending on the quality. "The stamps that are at the lower end of the quality scale may sell for $50- or $60,000, and the top quality stamps are probably $170- or $180,000.

"I think the stamp is fairly priced," he added. "It may be a little under-priced for its quality, but I think it's pretty much a fair price."

Greene was the heir to a whaling industry fortune.

"He built a phenomenal coin collection and stamp collection," said Sundman.

This particular stamp has an interesting story of its own.

"This stamp was bought by a member of the [British] Royal Family and went to England," he told the VSC. "During World War II, it was put in safe-keeping in a bank vault, and I think in 1940, when the Germans were bombing London, fire broke out nearby, and when the firemen were fighting the fire, the bank vault was flooded...so this stamp has no gum.

"We bought this stamp in part because we thought it would be exciting to offer to our customers and I also strong believe that a lot of the fun or romance are the stories that go with them and the history," he added.

Sundman said this Jenny Invert isn't perfect, but that proves a point.

"I like this stamp because it's a very rare, expensive stamp and it's not in perfect condition," he said. "So if we sell another stamp issued in the same time period without gum, I think a collector can say 'Gosh, this $10 stamp doesn't have gum but it's still a collectible stamp. Look at this $100,000 stamp that doesn't have gum.'

"That was one reason why I was attracted to this specific copy of the C3a," he continued. "In terms of offering it for sale just recently, we're just always experimenting with advertising to see how we can serve customers and serve stamp collectors."

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