And still delivering hidden treasure to a lucky few.
On a trip to the local post office, I was surprised to see the famed “Inverted Jenny” postage stamp being advertised on a counter placard.
Well, the 21st century version that is.
Indeed it is!
The original airmail stamp gained notoriety way back in 1918 when a sheet of 100 was printed and sold with the blue Curtiss JN-4H bi-plane (nicknamed “Jenny”) in the stamp’s center mistakenly appearing upside down. An alert stamp collector purchased the misprint knowing full well that he held a unique treasure in his hands. He promptly sold the sheet for $15,000.
So last year in conjunction with a new stamp gallery opening at the Smithsonian, the US Postal Service reissued an updated version with a contemporary face value of $2—a bit higher than the original 24 cent price. Blocks of six are still available as part of a souvenir sheet.
In a fitting nod to history (and Willy Wonka’s chocolate bar golden tickets), the postal service also printed 100 blocks of six with the plane flying right side up. You purchase a block in a sealed envelope and then possibly experience the thrill of discovering a stamp rarity—and potential lucrative investment.
Someone in the USPS marketing department knows what he or she is doing!
I collected stamps as a kid. Maybe that’s why I was excited to see the updated Jenny whose story is well-known to most collectors. Stamp collecting, or philately (which I never could pronounce correctly), is an often derided hobby—the purview of geeks, nerds, and dorks you think?
But, if you consider the practice more deeply, you may realize it can be a very enriching experience with an appeal to:
- History: So many stamps can be a pivot to learning more about the past.
- Societal Trends: Why did some folks at a certain point in time deem it important to honor/commemorate this or that on a stamp?
- Art/Beauty: The imagery on many stamps is quite beautiful and sophisticated. I challenge you to take a closer look at the postage on the next few stamped envelopes that come your way.
I gave away much of my collection in my late teens, but I remember retaining a small box containing some of my more prized pieces. Perhaps it’s time to dig out that forlorn remnant from my past.
Now if I could only remember where I stored it.
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So what about you?
Have you ever revisited or resurrected an abandoned hobby or maybe even a sport? What did you learn or discover from this reconnection?
United States Postal Service: