Lost, then found

Reporters gather around Scott English of the American Philatelic Society as he displays the recently returned Inverted Jenny stamp last week.

An Inverted Jenny stamp that was stolen six decades ago has been returned to its owner.

Collector Ethel Stewart McCoy bought a block of four Inverted Jennys and allowed the American Philatelic Society to exhibit them at a Virginia convention in 1955. The stamps disappeared from a display case there, although two were later recovered.

A third stamp was acquired by Keelin O’Neill, a Northern Ireland man who inherited it from his grandfather. Last week, he returned the stamp to the American Philatelic Research Library, which holds the rights to McCoy’s collection.

“I had no idea about the history and importance of the stamp until very recently,” said O’Neill, who accepted a $50,000 reward.

The Inverted Jenny, which mistakenly depicts an upside-down airplane, is one of the world’s rarest stamps. One Inverted Jenny from the batch of 100 printed in 1918 was auctioned for more than $1 million last week.

The American Philatelic Society’s executive director, Scott English, hopes the fourth stamp from McCoy’s collection will eventually be recovered.

“I know our friends in the philatelic world will work very hard to see if they can solve the rest of the mystery,” he said.