As of this writing, there hasn’t been much collector comment yet. An avalanche should follow very soon.

The USPS announced that it selected 3 random collectors to receive a copy of the Inverted Jenny pane with the pane right side up. The USPS just sent them one for free along with a note congratulating them. The collectors selected were one of the people who ordered Inverted Jenny panes from the Stamp Fulfillment Center (SFC).

Sorry, but this is going to do more damage to the hobby than good.

The USPS says that people who bought panes at local post offices were not part of this unannounced lottery. I guess they took the names of those ordering the Inverted Jenny panes from the SFC and picked three names at random. There is no way to gather names of people who bought locally.

It was a slap in the face to the many collectors who bought their panes locally. Had they known this lottery was going to take place, would they have ordered panes from the SFC too? I bet that many would have ordered at least some of their panes from the SFC to get their name in the pool.

The USPS lied to collectors. They said that 100 panes were randomly inserted into the stock. That was a lie, period. Only 97 panes are available to collectors. The USPS claims that they have no more panes set aside. Can we trust them? I don’t know...

The USPS then also related that the panes were not 100% random. In short, they inserted the error panes into orders that were sent to post offices that have more business. I live in Murrysville which is about 20 miles east of Pittsburgh. Yes, I bought some panes to use for postage because my customers like those stamps. Of course I was hoping to find one of the error panes. I guess I should have been buying my Jenny panes from a downtown Pittsburgh post office that might be one of the lucky “random” post offices that had enough business. If you’ve been buying your Inverted Jenny panes from your tiny, local post office – you’re probably searching in vain.

Random? This process was anything but random. I could choke the USPS for doing this. I bet you would too.

An issue that should have been a big shot in the arm to philately has been a disaster.

The general public is largely unaware of the existence of these “error” panes with the plane printed right side up. Most sales have been coming from stamp collectors who know about the intentional “error” panes.

As of this writing, there are about 23 panes known of the original 100. That includes 20 panes that were found by collectors and the 3 that the USPS just gave away.

Sales of these panes have languished. Even the USPS admits that sales have no met expectations.

There was a 1971 movie with Gene Wilder, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” At the beginning of the movie, everyone is searching like crazy for a golden ticket to get into the chocolate factory. The public was in a frenzy. The USPS was hoping for a similar frenzy of people buying these Inverted Jenny panes, hoping to get the “error” with the plane printed right side up.

Other than collectors, no one is using these panes for postage. Businesses don’t use the panes. They all have postage meters which are much faster and accurate than attaching stamps. Who in the general public needs to mail something that costs $2 or more? If someone from the general public takes, say, a Priority Mail package to the local post office, the window clerk is going to put a printed label on there and not ask, “Would you like to have this package paid with some Inverted Jenny stamps?” You have to buy the full pane for $12, even if you only need one or two stamps for what you’re mailing. What will the average non-collector do with unused $2 stamps?

If these stamps had been issued as Forever stamps at the First Class postage rate, they would have been much more popular and seen much more use.

There are stories in the philatelic press about collectors going into some post offices and asking for the Inverted Jenny stamps. Stunned postal employees ask, “What’s that?” Even postal employees aren’t aware of this issue unless someone asks for it. If they don’t know this issue exists, it’s a safe bet that they don’t know about the error panes so that they can promote them to customers.

This issue could have been handled much better. This should have been a Forever stamp. The USPS should have handled its publicity much better. And the USPS should not have lied to collectors about how many panes were available and holding panes back for a secret lottery that no one knew anything about. The USPS lied about the panes being randomly inserted into the huge stack of sealed packages. Sorry, but this issue will do more damage than good to the hobby.

The USPS was dead wrong on everything they did with this issue. Unfortunately, the hobby will pay a price for it.