James Farley and Leonard Sherman must be rolling over in their graves. Why?

In the 1930s, James Farley was Postmaster General under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There is a book, “Farley’s Follies” that describes in full detail what Postmaster General Farley did in creating ungummed, imperforate stamps that we basically political favors. In short, the stamp collecting community threw a fit and those issues were reprinted and made available to collectors. Otherwise, his philatelic favors could have resulted in financial gain for those benefactors lucky enough to receive these gifts.

Isn’t that what the USPS just did with giving away three of the upright Jenny panes to collectors? They are not political favors. But the intentionally printed upright panes result in a financial gain for those who are lucky enough to own a copy.

In 1962, Leonard Sherman discovered one of the original panes of the inverted Dag Hammarskjöld issue (Scott #1204). Again, there are many stories around his discovery and the USPOD subsequent decision to reprint the error. I’m not going to rehash all of that here. In short, Postmaster General J. Edward Day decided that collectors should not profit from these kinds of mistakes and he had the error reprinted in huge quantities. Leonard Sherman’s small gold mine lost most of its value overnight.

In 1962, collectors were not supposed to benefit from USPOD mistakes. In 2014 though, the USPS deliberately prints 100 right side up Jenny panes and gives 3 of them away to random collectors through an unannounced lottery. Huh?

How many collectors would have ordered their panes through the Stamp Fulfillment Center in order to have their name entered into this lottery? I wager that many would have ordered at least some of their panes that way.

What if this outcry over the secret lottery resulted in the USPS issuing a decision to reprint the right side up pane in large quantities so that every collector could own a copy? Wow, talk about some serious damage to the hobby! Like the Hammarskjöld error, the value of the original panes would instantly plummet.

I’m not advocating that the USPS print more of the right side up panes. I’m just saying that the USPS did it before with the Hammarskjöld error. So there is precedence and there is a chance (even if it is extremely tiny) that they would do it again. The USPS hasn’t been very truthful so far on just about everything around this issue.

James Farley and Leonard Sherman must be rolling over in their graves.