Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Rare stamp auctioned for 184,000

Inverted Jenny (pic: Warwick & Warwick)
The stamp is one of the world's most sought after (pic: Warwick & Warwick)

A rare US stamp which was mistakenly printed with an illustration of an upside down plane has been sold for 184,000 at auction in Warwick.

The 1918 Inverted Jenny is one of the icons of world stamp collecting, auctioneers Warwick & Warwick said.

Its eventual sale price, to an unnamed bidder, beat the 150,000 it was expected to fetch.

The stamp shows a Curtiss JN-4 - known as a Jenny - used for training pilots during World War I.

One hundred of the erroneous stamps went on sale in 1918.

They were snapped up by a stockbroker's clerk, William T Robey, at a post office in Washington DC, the auctioneers said.

'An honour'

The error happened because the stamp's two colours, red for the frame and a blue central image, were printed in two separate operations.

Warwick & Warwick said Mr Robey was keen on sending first day covers to his friends and went to buy several examples of the 24 cent airmail stamp.

When he saw a sheet of 100 stamps showing the aeroplane upside down, he handed over $24 and bought the whole lot.

By 1940 single stamps were changing hands at $4,100 (2,912) and in 2007 two were sold which achieved $825,000 (585,910) and $850,000 (603,665) before the addition of the buyer's premium, Warwick & Warwick said.

Director Colin Such said that he felt it was "an honour and a privilege" for the company to be selected to auction such a rare and valuable stamp.

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