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Pa. man lands 'corrected' 1918 stamps

| Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, 8:21 p.m.

A collector credits a hunch with helping him land one of 100 sheets of stamps recently issued by the United States Postal Service featuring a corrected version of its rare and famous error — the 1918 “inverted Jenny.”

Art Van Riper bought the stamps in Waverly, N.Y., because he read that the Postal Service printed a batch of inverted Jenny stamps celebrating the 95-year-old edition that, by mistake, featured an upside-down biplane.

He read that, as a way to draw people into stamp collecting, the Postal Service randomly distributed 100 sheets featuring the plane right-side up among the 2.2 million sheets replicating the original and distributed nationwide.

“I needed some stamps and thought ‘what the heck,' ” Van Riper said earlier this month from his Sayre, Pa., home, on the New York border. “I just had a feeling that maybe there would be one in Waverly.”

He intended to buy five sheets of the $2 stamps, at $12 a sheet, and use them to mail Christmas presents and for stocking stuffers. Postal clerk Betty Gable persuaded him to take more.

“I told him our office had 45, and he might as well buy them all,” she said. The last one would probably be the one with the right-side-up airplane, she told him.

“I'll be a son-of-a-gun, it was,” said Van Riper, who has a jewelry store and said he collects oddities ranging from baseball cards to old steins.

Van Riper's was the fourth of the 100 sheets to turn up since the post office started the campaign in September, USPS spokesman Mark Saunders said. One of the four is listed at $25,000 online, Van Riper said, but he doesn't have plans to sell his sheet.

Among stamp collectors, the inverted Jenny, produced by a printing error, is gold. Only one sheet of 100 stamps commemorating the nation's first airmail flight was sold.

One of the stamps recently sold for $977,000, according to the Postal Service.

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