Friday, June 10, 2016

A Better Store of Value?

Monets and Warhols stowed in free-port warehouses serve as stores of value for the world's superrich. But where's the fun in owning art you can't look at?  Rare stamps have long served as a superior form of tangible wealth – easy to store, easy to hide, easy to carry across national borders.

Stamps have a parallel quality to fine art," says Charles Hack, who collects both. Like art, rare stamps sometimes have noteworthy provenances.

The inverted Jenny, for example. This now-famous stamp was the Bureau of Printing and Engraving's second attempt to print postage in two colors, The first try hadn't gone well. Printing of the Jenny apparently went better, except for mishaps where the plane was printed upside down.

Colonel Green
Purchased by a prescient collector for face value, a sheet of 100 inverted Jennies passed to Colonel Edward H.R. Green, son of Hetty Green, The Witch of Wall Street. After numbering the stamps in pencil, 1 to 100, the Colonel separated the sheet into 25 sets of four.

In May one of the inverted Jennies sold for $1.35 million. Another, shown above, recently turned up in a stamp collection that an Irishman inherited from his grandfather. Thanks to Green's numbering, it was identified as one of a set of four stolen from an American Philatelic Society convention over 60 years ago.

Instead of a seven-figure bonanza at auction, the Irishman has to settle for a $50,000 reward.

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