One of the finest Inverted Jenny stamps in existence has brought a strong return on investment for its owner.
The best "mint never hinged" example of the 100 in existence sold for $575,100 at Spink New York on May 21.
JE Safra, a Swiss investor, had bought the stamp for $173,000 in 1994, which corresponds to a 6.2% pa return.
The result is a salient reminder to stamp collectors to "buy the best they can afford", as the finest condition examples of a stamp generally show the greatest price appreciation.
This example, which is one of five "mint never hinged" Inverted Jennys known, displays excellent perforations, superb centring and "beautiful rich colors on crisp clean paper", according to the auction house.
The US Postal Service created the 24c Jenny (referring to the type of plane) stamps in 1918 for use on the new airmail service between New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC.
Four sheets featured the error, three of which were destroyed.
"Its legendary status began the moment the stamp was issued in May, 1918, when William T. Robey purchased the entire error sheet of 100 at the New York Avenue Post Office window in Washington D.C. - May 14th - just one day after the stamp was issued," explains Spink.
"Within one week Robey sold the sheet for $15,000.00 to the well-known Philadelphia stamp dealer."
While there are many rarer error stamps in existence, none has the emotional appeal of the Inverted Jenny. It explains why the present auction record for a single US stamp was set by another Inverted Jenny - at $977,500 in 2007.
Have you seen our varied collection of rare postage stamps for sale?