June 17, 2009

Big collection of ‘inverts’ on sale

The world's largest collection of inverts, stamps with upside-down images, goes on the auction block this week in New York City.

The collection of 3,000 stamps belonged to Robert Cunliffe, an investment adviser who lived in Mount Lebanon, Pa., until his death last year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Cunliffe, a fighter pilot in World War II, had been buying stamps for decades, Charles Shreves, head of Spink Shreves, the Dallas firm that is running the sale, told the newspaper.

Cunliffe had already decided to put the collection up for sale before his death, Shreves said. He said most serious collectors have one or two inverts, while Cunliffe had acquired more than 3,000.

Some people have been waiting a lifetime for these stamps to make an appearance on the market, he said.

The collection includes one of the world's rarest stamps, the 1918 Inverted Jenny, an airmail stamp with an upside down bi-plane. There are five examples of the 1979 CIA Invert, a single stamp and a block of four.

The auction is set for Thursday and Friday at the Spink Shreves gallery in New York.