Notes from the Past

24¢ Airmail Invert Proof

A recent AP dispatch noted the appearance in Miami, Florida, of a die proof o the 24¢, 1918, carmine and blue, with the airplane inverted, the owner reported as a former employee of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Pending the outcome of a suit by the United States to recover this proof, the item has been impounded by U. S. District Judge George Whitehurst.

Such a die proof, of course, is not an "error" and could only have been made at a time when the two dies, frame and vignette, were brought out of the Bureau's vaults for a deliberate proof printing.  Some years ago, in notes here, I wrote up these "inverted airplane" die proofs, reporting only three copies known, all in possession of the Post Office Department, made for use in their frames for philatelic displays.  A Washington reader at that time made a check for me and located all three in these displays at the Department.  No claim has been made that any of these three are missing but evidently a fourth and perhaps other copies were made at the same time.

These "inverted" die proofs were made some years after the 1918 discovery of the original stamp inverts because the Post Office department, having no example of the inverted stamp, wanted something to display that would simulate the widely famed rarity.  No inverted 24¢ airmail die proof has ever been reported in a philatelic exhibit by the Bureau, the Bureau, naturally being somewhat reluctant to feature an "error" of theirs in production.

- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
September 21, 1937
Posted November 10, 1999

Editor's Note: Sloane subsequently noted that the inverted die proof had been returned to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  It was probably destroyed


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