WAVERLY, NY — Ask Art Van Riper where Santa lives and he’ll tell you it’s the Waverly, N.Y., Post Office where he got something to make it the best Christmas ever.
Mrs. Claus — a.k.a. retail associate Betty Gable — sold him one of only 100 unique stamp sheets produced to replicate the excitement behind finding the most publicized stamp error in U.S. history — the 1918 Inverted Jenny stamp.
In this case, Van Riper’s purchase depicted the biplane flying the wrong way — the image was right-side up.
Van Riper purchased one of 100 un-inverted Jenny stamp sheets that were randomly inserted among 2.2 million Inverted Jenny stamp sheets distributed nationwide. Three others have been purchased.
“I read about the Postal Service’s initiative to draw more people into stamp collecting and figured I’d make a trip to the Post Office,” he said. “I figured what the heck. If I don’t pick the right-side up Jenny, these will make for great stocking stuffers and be perfect for mailing Christmas packages.”
Gable recounted her side of the story about that November day. “When he came in to purchase the stamps, he said he wanted five sheets,” she said. “I told him our office had 45 and he might as well buy them all I joked, as the last one will probably be the one. He did just that, and then called back to say the last one did contain the right-side up version. He was so excited. And for me, it was the most thrilling day of my 20-year career.”
Included with the un-inverted stamp sheets is a congratulatory note inside the wrapping asking the customer to call a phone number to receive a certificate of acknowledgement signed by the Postmaster General.
Van Riper is the third purchaser of un-inverted Jenny stamps who has come forward with his find.
“He came to the Post Office to pick it up the certificate and showed it to us. We couldn’t believe it,” said Gable.
“Yes Virginia,” said Van Riper. “There is a Santa Claus. Both he and his wife live at the Waverly Post Office. This has to be the best Christmas ever.”
In a move to attract younger audiences to stamp collecting, the Postal Service recently issued a $2 version of the most famous stamp error in U.S. history — the 24-cent Curtiss Jenny airmail stamp that depicted the airplane flying upside down. A sheet of 100 stamps bearing this error was sold to the public. One stamp sold at auction in 2007 for $977,500.
Unique to the $2 stamp issuance, all sheets were individually wrapped in a sealed envelope to recreate the excitement of finding an Inverted Jenny when opening the envelope and to avoid the possibility of discovering a corrected Jenny prior to purchase.
The sheets were distributed randomly among the nation’s Post Offices and at the Postal Service’s Stamp Fulfillment Center, which accepts stamp orders online, and by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724). Additionally, some of the 100 also were randomly distributed at eBay.com.