One of the long-missing 1918 24c. Jenny airmail stamps with centre inverted, stolen during a philatelic exhibition in 1955, has been recovered by experts at Spink’s USA galleries.
Apparently, a prospective consignor, who had inherited the stamp and was, reportedly, unaware of its history, took it to Spink galleries with a view to it being auctioned. After careful examination by Spink staff and authentication by the Philatelic Foundation in New York, the stamp was declared not only to be genuine, but also one of a block of four examples stolen in 1955 during the American Philatelic Society Convention in Norfolk, Virginia.
The expertisation processes by the PF relied on the Foundation’s extensive records, photographs and electronic images of Jenny inverts. The recovered stamp was determined to be position 76 in the pane of 100 subjects. This position is the bottom right stamp from the famous McCoy block of four which was stolen from its exhibition frame over 60 years ago.
The stamps were owned by Ethel McCoy who had purchased the block from positions 65-66 and 75-76 in 1936 from stamp dealer Spencer Anderson for $16,000. After the theft, the block was broken into four singles and each copy was altered to disguise its appearance. The newly recovered position 76 had been reperforated at right and most of the gum had been removed so the pencil position numbers written on the gummed side had been lost. In 1979 Ms McCoy assigned her rights to the block to the American Philatelic Society. Two other stamps in the block have been recovered. Position 75 was recovered from a Chicago stamp and coin dealer’s shop in 1958 and position 65 resurfaced in 1982.
According to reports, the would-be-seller of the item is a man in his 20s who lives in the UK and who had inherited the stamp from his grandfather. George Eveleth, Head of the Philatelic Department at Spink said that once legal matters were settled they will be passing the stamp to its rightful owners-the APRL. The stamp is now believed to have been placed under the jurisdiction of the FBI’s art theft team.