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The One That Got Away
The Stamp Collecting Report, I'm Lloyd de Vries.
The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum is about to celebrate the 125th anniversary of
its national stamp collection with a special exhibition. But the Smithsonian DOESN'T
always get what it wants.
It wanted a full sheet of the Inverted Jenny, the upside-down airplane stamp from 1918,
says assistant philatelic curator Daniel Piazza. Only one sheet ever came on the market,
and it was quickly broken up into singles and blocks of stamps. Piazza says Joseph Levy,
then the curator of the collection, however, tried to get a special printing of the
famous error for the Smithsonian.
"Levy went to his friends at the Bureau and said, well, you did it in 1915, how about
making a sheet of these Inverted Jennies for us?" :07
But the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said no.
Now, there WERE more sheets of the Inverted Jennies.
"There were actually I believe 8 additional sheets of invert errors that were produced,
but they were caught by inspectors on the printing floor at the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing and destroyed before they reached the public and were sold at post
...which is how the system was SUPPOSED to work. The single mistake was the result of
"It had been widely publicized that the first government airmail flight was going to take
off on May 15, 1918. They had a firm deadline, the stamps had to be done by that date,
and in the rush to engrave and produce these stamps in time, one of those sheets made it
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I'm Lloyd de Vries of The Virtual Stamp Club. For more on stamps and stamps collecting,
[More than half a minute was cut to make the CBS Radio version come in at 59 seconds.
Hear the difference]
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