1. The first United States airmail stamp has had an interesting story. Printed in 1918, this 24-cent stamp with a blue plane inside a rose border became the center of much attention. One hundred of the stamps sold to the public became known as "inverts", for the plane was printed upside down. Some of these "upside-down" airmail stamps are now worth over $6,000.
2. The story of these stamps began on May 14, 1918, the day after they were placed on sale. In Washington, D.C., W.T.Robey, a man interested in stamps, decided to buy a sheet of the new stamps and so went to the New York Avenue branch post office in Washington. When the clerk handed him a sheet of the stamps, Robey noted that they were poorly centered. He looked at other sheets and found that none was well centered. The clerk asked Robey to return later in the day when more stamps were expected.
3. About noon Robey came back, and the same clerk was on duty. He reached for the new sheets and handed one to Robey. The collector's heart stood still as he saw that the sheet, which had been offered him, had inverted centers.
4. Excited by his find, obey shopped other branch post offices for more sheets with inverted centers but found none. Then he told his friends of his discovery, and they, too, looked in the city's post offices-also in vain.
5. Not being a rich man, obey decided to cash in on his good fortune. He turned down the first offer of $500 from a Washington stamp shop owner and took the sheet to New York. There he planned to show it to a collector, Colonel E.H.R.Green, as well as to stamp dealers.
6. Colonel Green was out of the city, and no one else wanted to bid on the sheet for fear that Robey's might not be the only upside-down sheet. As the news of his find spread, many people said that other such sheets had been found. These stories proved to be false.
7. Robey left New York without having made a sale, and stopped in Philadelphia on the way home. There, dealer Eugene Klein arranged to buy the sheet for $15,000, and finally did buy it. Within a few days, Klein sold the sheet to Colonel Green, the same collector whom Robey had failed to contact in Texas at the time, and that Klein phoned him there and sold him the sheet, sight unseen, for $20,000! Robey's sheet had cost him $24, and his profit was $14,976 while Klein gained $5,000.
8. Of the 100 stamps first bought by Mr. obey, stamp collectors are now able to account for 90. What has happened to the others is not known. When a copy is offered for sale, it is a major event in the stamp world. A single such stamp has been sold for as much as $6,500. Few people have ever even seen a copy. Yet no matter how much this valuable stamp is bought and sold, no owner can match the thrill that W.T.Robey had on that day in 1918 when he made America's luckiest stamp find!