What people notice first about Inverted Jenny position 6 is the red dashed line skipping down the left side, remnant of the centerline used to position the sheet during printing. Then they see the way the red frame touches the troughs of the perforations along the lower and right sides. They often miss the unnaturally even perforation bumps across the top. When Ken Daugherty bought it, his second Inverted Jenny, through one of Andy Levitt’s Nutmeg auctions in 1998, Levitt told him that it had enjoyed an earlier Hollywood sojourn.
Position 6 entered public life at the New York Collectors Club, October 5, 1942, in the second of twenty-eight sales of Ned Green’s stamps. It went for $1,350, a pretty good price since Green’s agent Eugene Klein hadn’t been able to sell it twenty-four years earlier for $175 because it had an undesirable top-row straight edge. By the time stamp dealer Sylvester Colby auctioned it in 1951, the top edge had been perforated. The imposed symmetry may be the reason the stamp brought $750 more than position 70—pictured next to it in the same Colby catalog—which retained its right-side straight edge.
Nine years later, Lambert Gerber tried to sell position 6 for $6,000 and failed. At the time, Gerber was known merely as a small-time dealer who worked out of an office in his basement in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. Later, he became notorious as the fence for two purloined Inverted Jennys: Ethel McCoy’s position 65 lifted at the 1955 APS convention in Norfolk, Virginia, and position 18 taken from the Miller Collection at the New York Public Library in 1977. Around the same time Gerber was selling those and other stolen stamps, he also advertised Inverted Jenny positions 3, 4, and 20.
Although Gerber didn’t manage to move position 6 at that 1960 auction, someone did acquire it before 1972, the year Ray Lundgren of Century Stamp and Coin in Los Angeles sold it to Steve Markoff. Famous as a numismatist, somewhat less so for producing a dozen Hollywood movies, Markoff looks back on position 6 as a sexy impulse purchase from the time when he was a flashy twenty-something. In 1977 he placed it with Superior Stamp and Coin of Beverly Hills.
He couldn’t sell the stamp through Lundgren because Ray had been gunned down in his own driveway the year before by hitmen from Whitey Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang (apparently without Bulger’s knowledge). The beef was over Lundgren turning state’s evidence in a Boston case involving thefts from the Cardinal Spellman collection and stamp dealer Jack Molesworth’s stock. Lundgren had been acting as the West Coast fence when the FBI arrested him and ten others for conspiring to sell stolen stamps. He cut a deal with the Feds, but assassin Joey Mac kept him from seeing it through.
For nearly a decade, position 6 drifted around Hollywood, using Superior Stamp and Coin as a revolving door among celebrity homes. George Amick’s 1986 bible, The Inverted Jenny, reports that Superior sold position 6 to a “woman celebrity” in 1982 and a “local TV personality” in 1984. In addition, Andy Levitt told Ken that the famous wife of a talk show host had bought it for her stamp-crazed husband. Ken was under the impression that comedian Edie Adams had bought it for her husband Ernie Kovacs, and, indeed, Kovacs did do a comedy sketch in which he disturbs a stamp collector working with thousands of stacked stamps by bursting into his study accompanied by a gust of wind that blew away the furniture but not the stamps. However, Kovacs died in a 1962 car accident. The dates when Steve Allen and Jack Paar took turns hosting The Tonight Show are a better match, but they, too, can’t speak to the matter.
Selling at $77,000 by 1984, position 6 split Tinseltown and showed up in Chicago, then Geneva, Switzerland, and then back on the US East Coast, trading among dealers until Robert Siegel’s stepson, Andy Levitt, finally sold it, full of secrets and with character to spare, to our friend Ken Daugherty. On June 27 position 6 will take wing once again as Siegel Auction Galleries offers it in their 2018 Rarities of the World sale.
Amick, George (1986).The Inverted Jenny: Mystery, Money, Mania. Amos Press Inc.
Diamanti, Kellen, and Deborah Fisher (2018). Stamp of the Century. American Philatelic Society.