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Upside Down
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The news that a rare postal misprint sold at auction reminded me of my brief fling with philately. According to the news report:
A group of four flawed, early U.S. airmail stamps, originally priced at 24 cents each, sold at auction for $2.97 million on Wednesday.

An unidentified private collector bought the so-called "Inverted Jenny" stamps at the Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, the auction house said.

The 1918 stamp depicting a Curtiss JN-4H airplane was the first U.S. airmail stamp. Only a single flawed sheet of 100 stamps showing the airplane flying upside down was ever sold.

Only nine varieties of "inverts" have reached the public. One did so in 1962, when I was knee deep in stamp hinges. In fact, I actually had an invert.

But then so did millions of other collectors.

When a few hundred Dag Hammarskjold commemoratives were released with the yellow background inverted, much to the delight of two collectors who had each purchased half a sheet, Postmaster General J. Edward Day declared "The Post Office Department is not running a jackpot operation," and ordered the printing of 40,000,000 duplicates.

This decision turned out to be even less popular than Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick's placing an asterisk next to Roger Maris' homerun record the previous year, due to Maris having had the benefit of a longer season.

I guess they were at least thinking about fairness way back then.

The times were different. When UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash while on a peacekeeping mission to the Congo, this country mourned. Can anyone imagine the United States putting Secretary General of the United Nations on a stamp today?

Hard to believe that a half century ago we knew the future from the past. Now we've got everything upside down.

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