Be­hind ev­ery lit­tle stamp lies a fas­ci­nat­ing story

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER -

TINY works of art, postage stamps tell the sto­ries of our coun­try and our world. They tell big sto­ries (of his­tor­i­cal fig­ures like Nel­son Man­dela), sto­ries about na­ture (such as the protea) and an end­less list of topics such as fa­mous mu­si­cians and sport­ing he­roes.

There’s a new stamp that tells the story of a postal mishap that hap­pened in the US in 1918. That year, the US Post Of­fice is­sued the Cur­tis Jenny stamp to cel­e­brate the coun­try’s first air­mail de­liv­ery. The stamp was named af­ter the Cur­tiss JN-4 “Jenny” bi­plane (that means it has up­per and lower wings) used for the flight. But a print­ing er­ror caused the im­age of the plane to be printed up­side down on some of the sheets.

One of those sheets of 100 stamps was sold by ac­ci­dent at a Wash­ing­ton post of­fice. (The oth­ers were de­stroyed.) The clerk had never seen an aero­plane be­fore and didn’t no­tice the mis­take.

Since then, stamp col­lec­tors have searched for the “In­verted Jen­nys”. One re­cently sold for $977 000 (about R9.9 mil­lion).

This year, the US Postal Ser­vice is­sued 2 mil­lion “In­verted Jen­nys” to cel­e­brate the 1918 mishap. The 2013 stamp in­ten­tion­ally shows the plane up­side down.

And there’s a twist: The post of­fice has printed 100 sheets of the stamp with the plane fly­ing right side up.

So far, only two sheets of the lim­ited-edi­tion stamps have been found. “It’s a bit of a scav­enger hunt,” says Su­san McGowan, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor for stamp ser­vices at the US Postal Ser­vice. “It’ also a su­per op­por­tu­nity for kids to start a col­lec­tion.”

One of the great things about col­lect­ing stamps is that you can fo­cus on your in­ter­ests, such as sports, an­i­mals, his­tory, movies or even mus­cle cars. McGowan, who col­lects stamps with her kids, shares a few tips:

● Go to your near­est post of­fice, ask to see the lat­est stamps, and make a pur­chase.

● Save the stamps from any­thing you get in the mail.

● Cre­ate a scrap­book to save your stamps.

● Check out this philatelic society’s web­site: www. stamps. org/ Young-Philatelists. (A philatelist is some­one who col­lects stamps.)

● With a par­ent’s per­mis­sion, search on­line for your favourite topic – whether it’s base­ball or whales – plus the word “stamps”. If you find a pic­ture of a stamp that’s not avail­able at the post of­fice, the web­site has lists of stamp deal­ers and stamp shows. – Wash­ing­ton Post

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