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Position 76 Inverted Jenny Error Stamp Discovery

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     Former Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez often remarked, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” It’s hard to say which contributed more to his storied Hall-of-Fame career, but the humorous line transcends baseball. That line came to mind when we received word that position number 76 was discovered at the Philatelic Foundation in New York City in April.

     Missing since 1955, the McCoy block of Inverted Jenny stamps has become legendary in the world of the American Philatelic Society and American Philatelic Research Library. Writer Ken Lawrence does a masterful job of detailing the legend more in our cover story this month and the recovery, a follow-up to his September 2014 article on Ethel McCoy, the two stamps recovered and a generous reward to recover the last two stamps.
      But back to that Gomez line. In finding this stamp, we did not have to choose, we had enough of both.
     There are two individuals who are central to this story and deserve our thanks. First is Ethel McCoy, a woman who dedicated her life in support of the hobby and near the end of her life, assigned all claims to the stamps to the APRL. That donation has not only brought a financial benefit to our library, but has ensured that the Inverted Jenny (position 65) has been one of the most accessible of all the Inverted Jenny stamps in existence. We exhibit it regularly at stamp shows. Second, Don Sundman, president of the Mystic Stamp Company, whose generous reward offer in 2014 resurrected a cold case and will ultimately bring this stamp to us. Thanks to his generosity, we will be celebrating the return of this stamp and the library and hobby have received international attention.
      There are others who deserve credit, such as Spink USA for making us aware of the stamp’s whereabouts. Our partners at the Philatelic Foundation in New York, who were able to certify the stamp and worked with law enforcement to protect the stamp and confirm it was APRL property. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, who has been thorough in investigating this case and is still working on the trail of the last remaining missing stamp (position 66). On a personal note, I want to thank APRL president Roger Brody, McCoy Recovery Committee chair Rob Haeseler, and Ken Lawrence, who have worked to keep this topic going over the years and whose expertise and support allowed us to move quickly to protect the stamp.
     “There is a sense of ‘brotherhood’ among stamp collectors, of a kind of which is very unusual today.” Those words were written by Ayn Rand in 1971.
      Despite the challenges the hobby and the society have endured in the recent past, we can still accomplish great things for philately when we work together. In that sense, this story affirms we can be lucky and good. And that is why I’m optimistic about the future of stamp collecting.

There’s Nothing Like a Good Stamp Show
In the past month, I was a special guest at the Plymouth (Michigan) Stamp Show, sponsored by the West Suburban Stamp Club, and Westpex in San Francisco, California. Thanks to great volunteers, both shows are well run and get good support from the community.
      At the Plymouth show, the West Suburban Stamp Club made a great offer to attendees — join the APS and get a free membership with them. That offer helped us net five new applications in two days — hopefully great members for both the West Suburban Stamp Club and the APS. This is the first time I’ve participated in a joint membership offer with a local club, but hopefully not the last.
     While I was at the show, I was an invited speaker to the Plate Number Coil Collectors Club, the Peninsular State Philatelic Society, and at the awards banquet on Saturday evening. Special thanks go to Jill Ambrose of PNC3, Fred Levantrosser of the PSPS, and Sandy Strzalkowski of the West Suburban Stamp Club, for leading the welcoming committee for the APS and giving us so many chances to spread the word. The volunteers at the Plymouth Stamp Show were so kind and made me feel like part of the family — even for the post-show beer and pizza party on Sunday night. It was also great to catch up with Dottie and Harry Winter, who are such great supporters and volunteers with the APS. I finally got to see them sit down at the awards banquet at the Plymouth Show. They shared such great stories about the APS and the hobby at the wrap party. Dottie and Harry have never met a stranger and are always so gracious; and if you get up that way, you’ll probably see them on the go at a stamp show or club.

     Westpex 2016 was exciting inside and outside the hotel. Just down the road, the California Republican Convention was happening at the same time, complete with protestors and blockade. Despite the excitement outside, you wouldn’t know what was happening inside. Ed Jarvis, who has been chairman of the Westpex show for 15 years, tells me his success is in being surrounded by great people. If you were there, you saw an army of volunteers wearing Westpex shirts pitching in to greet guests, help setup, giving tours, educating large numbers of students visiting the show, and making the show an experience.
     Shows like Westpex are really doing a great job with recruiting the next generation of collectors. On Friday of the show, the United Nations unveiled the International Dance stamps with special guest Wade Saadi, chairman of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and past president of the APS. The first-day ceremony was a packed house, largely from students from two local elementary schools. After the ceremony, I got to visit with the students from Live Oak Elementary School in the first grade and fifth-graders from another school nearby. We talked about the stamps, they showed me their favorite dance moves, and I believe we have some future members.

     I also got to see Charles Epting, alum of the 2015 class of the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship, do a presentation titled “Corruption and Misconduct in the San Francisco Post Office” to a packed house. He did a great job with the provocative material and is now working with an auction house. If you missed his cover story in the May issue of The American Philatelist, I encourage you to read it. Charles and I also met a local stamp club volunteer, Jessica Rodriguex, a student at San Jose State University, who is very interested in getting into the 2017 class of YPLF. Hopefully, we will be  able to welcome her to the program in Portland during APS StampShow 2016.
     There is simply not enough space to share all the good news, but thanks to the volunteers and members who are helping the hobby and the APS grow.

Belated Thanks
     In the April issue, we said thank you to the many members who help make the hobby and the society strong.
Unfortunately, we missed two members and they deserve recognition.
     Thank you to Otto Thamasett for his in-kind donation of $250, and Alan Nelson for his in-kind donation of $4,690 to the education program!
     As always, thanks to the members who provided insight and support through phone calls, letters, and e-mails. It is my honor to be a part of such a great community. If there is ever anything we can do, please feel free to contact me at scott@stamps.org..

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