Special Exhibits and Rarities

Don't miss your chance to see three of America's most noteworthy postal items!

24-cent Inverted Jenny

The Most Famous U.S. Stamp. On May 14, 1918, William T. Robey went to a post office in Washington, D.C. to buy a pane of the first U.S. airmail stamps, which had been issued the previous day. Robey found the panes of 100 stamps slightly off center and the clerk suggested he come back later the same day when new supplies would be available. When Robey returned he was astonished to find a pane with all 100 stamps showing the Curtiss Jenny biplane upside down.

Word of Robey’s find traveled quickly and the sale of 24¢ airmail stamps was halted temporarily so stocks could be checked. No additional errors were found. A postal inspector tried to convince Robey that he should sell the pane back to the post office, but he refused. Instead, he sold the entire pane to Eugene Klein in Philadelphia for $15,000. A few weeks later Klein resold the pane to Colonel Edward H. R. Green for $20,000. Position 65, the top left stamp of the famous “McCoy block”, currently owned by the American Philatelic Research Library, will be on display.

The Hammarskjold Inverts

The 1962 Dag Hammarskjold 4¢ invert was the first such error to elude postal inspectors since the Jenny Invert in 1918. The appearance of the error prompted Postmaster General J. Edward Day to order 40 million more errors (the yellow background is inverted and shifted to the right) to be printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Leonard
Sherman, the New Jersey jeweler whose dreams of wealth were shattered by Day’s action, donated his discovery sheet to the APS in 1987.

George Washington Free Frank

U.S. Presidents are provided free franking for their postal mailings. This privilege was first offered to George Washington when he became president in April 1789. In May 1789, just weeks after his inauguration, he used this folded letter sheet for correspondence to the Honorable James Warren (1726–1808), a member of the Sons of Liberty who was Postmaster General of the Continental Army. Washington signed it “President/U.S.”