Published: February 12, 2008
Hot-blooded stamp collectors chased a rare “invert” American stamp from 1869 depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence to a record $1.2 million at Philip Weiss Auctions this past Saturday, February 9.
“Oh, my God, it was unbelievable,” said an elated Philip Weiss, still reeling from the sale. “Not only was it a world record price for that stamp, but it was an auction record for any inverted stamp.” In November 2007, Robert Siegel, a New York City-based auctioneer, achieved $977,500 for a 1918 inverted Jenny 24-cent US airmail stamp.
Weiss said an anonymous collector successfully bid for the stamp, which was originally estimated by the auction house at $200/300,000. “I really expected that the 24-cent inverted Jenny would be the star of this sale,” said Weiss. Also estimated at $200/300,000, the Jenny brought $265,000.
“Inverts” get their classification from the fact that image was accidentally printed upside-down. The sale included 23 of the coveted inverts among more than 200 lots of stamps and coins.
The 1869 inverted center 24-cent was among a set last purchased in 1974 for $100,000 as part of the Charles A. Schaefer collection. It also included an 1869 15-cent inverted center, #119b, unused, no gum example, one of only three known to exist. Depicting Columbus in the New World, that stamp brought $750,000 from the same collector that purchased the Declaration of Independence stamp. The same buyer also added the Schaefer collection’s 30-cent American eagle to his list of winning bids at $250,000. “In 34 years, he [Schaefer] made 20 times his money,” said Weiss.
Weiss said that, including eBay bidders, the sale drew an estimated 2,000 registered bidders, and his gallery was packed with both serious collectors and curious onlookers, thanks to a Newsday feature article about the inverted Jenny stamp that appeared a few days before the sale.
A full review of this sale will appear in a future issue.
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